What are you waiting for?


If you want to lose 10 lbs, what are you waiting for? What are you doing about it? It won’t happen by accident! If you really want to live a more godly life, what are you waiting for? What are you doing about it?

An old friend (who is now in heaven) liked to say: “Get with the program kid!” If you brought a problem to her, she would ask, “What are we going to do about it?” The same applies to living a godly life! A short but potent word from God says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

Advice for a young leader:

“Train yourself to be godly” (NIV). “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (NASB). “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (I Timothy 4:7-8).

Living a godly life (a life patterned after the character of God) requires training and discipline. What does your workout program look like? We must directly attack the pull of our hearts toward the sin of laziness. It’s too easy to drift without focus. But remember that the benefits of spiritual training are for “this life” and “the life to come” (see: Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:29-30; 1 Peter 3:10-11; 2 Corinthians 5:8-10).

These two spheres of existence (“this life” and ”the life to come”) are repeatedly connected in Scripture (see: Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:8-10; Romans 8:17; 14:11). And this offers an important insight into a key part of spiritual discipline. You’ll never train yourself to be godly without a wholehearted determination to cultivate deep connections between this life and the life to come (Colossians 3:1-4, 23;I John 2:15-17).

Nothing by accident:

Training is a common part of life. Whether it’s occupational, educational, musical or athletic, you don’t excel at anything without training. And while training usually involves others (teachers, mentors, coaches, etc…), it must always include self-training. We need discipline and focus to excel in anything.

“Train yourself to be godly” (NIV). “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (NASB).

Intensity and devotion:

For training to yield the best results it cannot be half-hearted. We must give ourselves to the goal with intensity and devotion. The one who pursues a godly life is pursuing God himself!

  • With his intellect, he explores God’s truth.
  • With his will, he yields to God’s authority.
  • With his emotions, he cultivates godly affections

But none of this happens by accident! Becoming a godly person requires discipline. It requires intense focus. Laziness must be resisted. Train yourself! Guard against the threat of busyness and the lure of distraction. Fight off the tendency to be spiritual lazy and self-indulgent (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6ff; 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:2,11).

Discipline yourself for the purpose of becoming a godly person or you will not leave a godly heritage.

Training in godliness presupposes (and even requires) the continual activity of God in our lives. “God disciplines those He loves so that we might share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Yet we are not passive recipients of His activity in our lives. No! God calls on us to be active participants with Him! 

“… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13)

It doesn’t say, “Work out your salvation because God already did His part; now you must do yours.”  It says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you…”  (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and Philippians 1:6).

Don’t let discouragement defeat you:

Most of the important parts of life require commitment and work. But it’s easy to get discouraged. Setbacks will be inevitable. Don’t let the failures and struggles take the wind out of your sails. Remember this wise word: 

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:26a).

If you stumble and fall — Get up! Get moving! Refuse to fold under failure! Learn some lessons! Embrace the life God wants for you! Trust in God’s redeeming love for you! Ask God to restore His joy in you!

“After each failure ask for forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again. For however important purity may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up” (C.S. Lewis). (See: Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58). 

Does it take work? Yes! Will you grow weary? Yes! Is it worth the effort? Yes! — in this life and the next! 

Do you feel alone in the battle?

“For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

What does your training program look like? 

If I followed your plan, would I increase in godliness? There’s nothing magical or mystical about it. Like most areas of training, it’s an input-output equation of intentional focus and structured repetition

Daily exercises:  A spiritual workout for each day

  1. Keep short accounts with God (Psalm 32:1-7; 1 John 1:9).
  2. Meditate deeply on Scripture (Psalm 1:1-3; II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22-25). Remind yourself of the gospel each day (Titus 3:3-7; the two exclamatory affirmations of Romans 7:24-25 must always be near to our hearts).
  3. Pour out your heart to God in prayer and praise (Psalm 62:8; 100:4; Colossians 4:12; Hebrews 4:16).
  4. Keep company with those who are moving in a godly direction (Proverbs 13:20; Hebrews 3:12-3; 13:7, 17).
  5. Push yourself. Resist complacency and laziness! Avoid distractions (Romans 12:11; Colossians 3:23). Do one more set! Go for one more hour! Let’s get with it!

 Steve Cornell

Hot tub religion

“As I sat there savoring hot tubness, cracking small jokes and adjusting to the feel of being bubble over from all angles, it struck me that the hot tub is the perfect symbol of the modern route in religion. The hot tub experience is sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid-back: not in any way demanding, whether intellectually or otherwise, but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun.” 

“Many today want Christianity to be like that, and labor to make it so.” 

“What, then, should we say of hot tub religion? Certainly a rhythm of life that includes relaxation is right; the fourth commandment shows that. Alternating hard labor with fun times in right too; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Jesus so often went to banquets, the fun times of the ancient world, that he got called glutton and drunkard. Enjoying our bodies while we can, as opposed to despising them is part of the discipline of gratitude to our Creator. And uninhibited exuberances like clapping, dancing, shouting praise and crying out in prayer can be approved too, provided we do not hereby stumble others.”

“Without these hot tub factors, as we may call them, our Christianity would be less godly and less lively, for it would be less human. But if there were no more to our Christianity than hot tub factors – if, that is, we embraced a self-absorbed hedonism of relaxation and happy feelings, while dodging tough tasks, unpopular stances and exhausting relationships — we should fall short of biblical God-centeredness and of the cross-bearing life to which Jesus calls us, and advertise to the world nothing better than our own decadence. Please God, however, we shall not settle for that.” 

The danger of this hot tub mentality is not only that it loses sight of the place of service and of self-giving love as the true path of joyful Christianity, but in the words of J. I. Packer, it also “loses sight of the place of pain in sanctification, whereby God trains his children to share his holiness.”

“The New Testament shows us that in the school of sanctification many modes of pain have their place — physical and mental discomfort and pressure, personal disappointment, restriction, hurt, and distress. God uses these things to activate the supernatural power that is at work in believers (2 Cor. 4:7-11); to replace self-reliance with total trust in the Lord who gives strength (1:8f, 12:9f); and to carry on his holy work of changing us from what we naturally are into Jesus’ moral likeness ‘with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus he prepares us for that which he has prepared for us.” (Quotes from: Hot Tub Religion, by J. I. Packer).

Steve Cornell

Weakness is the way

“God does not allow us to stay with the idea that we are strong. O, we may have that idea. But the Lord is going to disabuse us of it one way or another and it will be good for us and give glory to Him when he does so.”  (J. I. Packer).

This Sunday at our Church, I plan to present a message titled, “Power made perfect in Weakness”
Gatherings: 8:20 AM & 11:00 AM

In his recent book, Weakness is the way J. I. Packer wrote,

“The truth, however, is that in many respects, and certainly in spiritual matters, we are all weak and inadequate, and we need to face it. Sin, which disrupts all relationships, has disabled us all across the board. We need to be aware of our limitations and to let this awareness work in us humility and self-distrust, and a realization of our helplessness on our own. Thus we may learn our need to depend on Christ, our Savior and Lord, at every turn of the road, to practice that dependence as one of the constant habits of our heart, and hereby to discover what Paul discovered before us: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).”

Listen to Dr. Packer speak to this theme:


We need to be alone

Have you ever thought of silence as a spiritual discipline?

It’s usually listed in disciplines of abstinence – along with the practice of solitude (being alone with God) and secrecy (living for an audience of One) (see: Matthew 6:5-6; 25:34-40; Philippians 2:3; Hebrews 6:10).

The practices of silence, solitude and secrecy are means of getting away from the noises and distractions of life. Although God said, “it’s not good to be alone,” aloneness is sometimes necessary to refresh us for being together. Those who walk with God know that silence, solitude and secrecy are indispensable practices of true spirituality.

But quietness seems to be an endangered quality. In a media saturated culture (dominated by technology), these disciplines are increasingly at risk.

I am as connected as the next guy (with iPhone, iPad, and Lap Top to prove it), but I am uneasy with the strength of distraction that comes with the “connected” life. When I walk through our university town between classes most of those around me are either on cell phones or ear-plugged to something. I am troubled by what might be lost in the endless noise — by what we might not hear.

Although silence is not only about technology, we could all benefit from stepping back and considering potential liabilities that come with all the great opportunities and blessings of being so connected.

  • Is it possible to be too connected?
  • Does social networks facilitate deeper or more superficial community?
  • How does technology affect communion with God?
  • Does access to more information lead to more knowledge and wisdom?
  • Can I escape these connections sufficiently to experience the blessings and benefits of silence, solitude and secrecy?  

Have you ever thought of silence as an uncomfortable experience? Some people avoid silence and prefer noise. But what does it tell us when distraction and noise feel better than being alone with our thoughts? How can we truly listen through all the noise and distraction?

I agree that, “You can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. . . It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn’t always talk. Sometimes — sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it” (Danny Saunders).

When we practice silence and solitude in a secret place with God, our thoughts are quieted in His presence. We must hear this word from the Psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

The mother of toddlers might relish the thought of solitude and silence but the default for most of us is to hit a power switch and connect during our down time. Beyond televisions and radios, I don’t think of silence, solitude or secrecy in relation to phones, texting, voicemail, email, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. Is it possible to be too available, too visible; too connected?

One of my favorite authors wrote, “The best way to achieve silence during worship is to practice silence as part of our everyday lives. … When this is a natural habit of our daily lives, then when silence is introduced at specific times during worship we are perfectly comfortable with it and know how to use this precious time to focus ourselves on God in a different way from how we are present to God during the rest of the service” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr.).

Learning the rhythmsilence and speaking

There’s a time for everything, wrote the wise teacher, “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (3:7).

“But who knows which is which? Who knows how to tell time? Who knows when to speak up and when to keep still? Who knows when silence is golden and when it is lazy or even cowardly?”

“The wise know these things. Wise persons discern the deep grains and patterns of God’s world, and then they try to go with the grain. These are persons whose habits are always in season. They’ve got rhythm where silence and speech are concerned. And so they imitate God by not talking all the time. They’ve got more silences than words, and their silences are just as disciplined and just as thoughtful as their words. They speak only from the context of silence, and when they have nothing valuable to say, they fall silent again.”

“We have met wise people like this. They have high quality words because they have high quality silences. Sometimes their silences are eloquent. Wise speakers may say more or less than others, but usually less, and always less that needs to be taken back. They give the impression of speaking out of a stillness at their center, a quiet place in which they are at home with themselves, in touch with God, and hospitable to the voices of others.”

“Silence is the natural context for speaking, but also for listening. What do we hear if we pipe down for a while? We hear the voices of others—not just their words, but their voices. We hear a quaver in a macho voice, or strength in a quiet voice. We also listen for the sounds and the silences of God. The silences of God! So mysterious they are, and so deep. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak, and God has kept this calendar a lot longer than we have” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr.).

Losing rhythm

“But silence puzzles people. They meet a silence and they wonder what’s wrong. Or silence makes people restless. The effect is just the opposite of what you’d expect. You’d expect that people would enter a silence and fold their wings. You’d expect that inside a silence people would smooth out and settle down. But that’s not the way it goes. Oddly, a fair number of people find silence disquieting.”

“If you go to a big league sports event and the announcer asks for a moment of silence to honor some fallen hero, people will do it all right. People bow their heads, and the place gets quiet. But it’s never for a full moment. No, you get about twelve seconds of silence, and when it’s over there’s an explosion of cheering and whistling, as if the whole place had been holding its breath and had let it out at once. Twelve seconds of silence, and then we’re glad that’s over, so life can get back to normal.”

“Silence makes people restless. So they try to get rid of it. People plug their ears with mini-speakers or haul their boom boxes to the seashore so that they don’t have to live in the silence between the rolling of surf and the crying of gulls. People crank up the mega-bass in their car stereos and cruise through a neighborhood, blowing all the birds out of the trees. People on subway trains conduct noisy and personal phone conversations. People turn on talk shows and fill their homes with hours of chatter. Some of this chatter is hostile. Some of it, amusing. But mostly the chatter is pointless, what Ephesians calls ‘unwholesome talk.’”

Disoriented without silence

“The truth is that silence is part of the created rhythm of human life. The question of whether we need any silences goes to who we are, not just to what we want. That’s why a loss of silence is so serious. A loss of silence is as serious as a loss of memory, and just as disorienting. Silence is, after all, the natural context from which we listen. Silence is also the natural context from which we speak. A culture that fills in our silences therefore disorients us. It rips away our frame. It removes the background, the base of intelligibility for all our listening and speaking” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr.).

Steve Cornell


15 minutes a day could change your life

A close relationship with God is experienced by spending time with Him, looking for Him in His Word, and carefully listening to what God is telling us through it.

Let’s get started! 

It’s time to “kick start” your walk with God with a reachable plan for daily quiet time with God. Most of us get started with high expectations and sputter out along the way. My hope is that you will find so much help and encouragement by meeting God in His Word that you wouldn’t think of a day without this practice. 

Work together!

Sometimes we need others to help us be faithful. Find someone to help you stay on course. We double the blessing when we share our progress and discoveries with others. By simply inviting someone to ask you how you are doing in your daily time with God, you will more likely be consistent. As a good friend says, “Fly in tight formation with a faithful few!” (Crawford Loritts)

On the journey with you,

Steve Cornell

Meeting God in His Word

(A 15 minute plan for each day)

Step 1 – First five minutes… in praise and giving thanks

It is best to enter God’s presence with praise and thankfulness. We honor God by declaring His greatness: “Father in heaven, your name is exalted, and you are worthy of praise. Today, I praise you because you are the only true God. I specifically praise you because of your:

(Focus on one attribute for the day)

  • Love: sacrificial giving for my benefit
  • Mercy: withholding the judgment I deserve
  • Grace: goodness to me when I only deserve judgment.
  • Patience: bearing with disobedient creatures like me
  • Kindness: thoughtful actions for my good
  • Faithfulness: loyalty and trustworthiness
  • Holiness: complete uniqueness and separation from sin
  • Power: ability to do all things 
  • Salvation: provider of forgiveness and reconciliation
  • Sovereignty: absolute authority and rule over your creation

“I praise you for salvation through my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus alone, I come to you. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is your gift of love to me as an unworthy sinner. I thank you that through Jesus I have been:

  • Forgiven of my sins
  • Justified in your sight
  • Reconciled to you
  • Adopted as your child
  • Given the Holy Spirit who lives in me
  • United with the body of Christ, the Church
  • Assured a home in heaven”

“I acknowledge that (apart from Jesus as my Savior), I am unworthy of you and your gifts of love. I need you to teach me how to live a life that pleases you. I ask you to open my eyes to see and my ears to hear as I enter your Word. I humbly ask you to use your Word in my life to change me more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Step 2 - The second five minutes… in the Word on specific Scriptures

Carefully reading the chosen verses, underline key words or phrases and write them down. Consider the following example:

John 14:1-3

“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (NLT)

The underlined words and phrases are the ones that make connections with your life. Re-read the verses several times and pause to think about the words and phrases you underlined. Think about ways that these words connect with your walk with God.

Step 3 – The final five minutes… responding to God through His Word          

Talk to God about the connections you’re making in the words and phrases. Perhaps one or two key ideas speak to your walk with God in deeply needed ways. In the passage above, we could talk to God about our tendency to be troubled or our need to grow in our trust in God’s plan for us. We could also thank God for giving us assurance for our future. We could tell him how much we look forward to being in that place Jesus is preparing for us. Finally, through this Scripture, we could express our longing to always be with our Savior.


Meeting God in His Word

Date: __________

Time: __________ 

Scripture: Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

5 Minutes of Praise and Giving Thanks


5 Minutes in the Word (Underline key words and phrases)


5 Minutes Responding to God through His Word (Focus prayer on the underlined parts) 


 Meeting God in His Word

Date: __________

Time: __________ 

Scripture: Romans 5:8-10

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” 

5 Minutes of Praise and Giving Thanks


5 Minutes in the Word (Underline key words and phrases) 

5 Minutes Responding to God through His Word (Focus prayer on the underlined parts) 


Note: To purchase a 5×7 spire bound hard copy of “Meeting God in His Word” covering two months of days, send your name and address to me at s.cornell@millersvillebiblechurch.org 

We ask $ 6.00 for each one to cover cost of production. (The content above is from the book) 

Steve Cornell

Living between two points of victory

1. Personal Salvation – Receiving Christ (John 1:12)

    •   An Event of history – “It is finished!”
    •   Salvation accomplished!
2. Final Transformation – Made like Christ (I John 3:2)
    •   A Promise of prophecy –“I am making everything new!’
    •   Salvation completed!

I John 3:2 - “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”


A Closer look:

1. Personal Salvation 

    • Redeemed, Justified, Forgiven, Reconciled, Adopted and Restored to fellowship with God.
    • All freely given as a gift of God’s amazing love based in His mercy and grace and not by anything we offered to God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

An event of history 

    • John 10:11,18 - “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”
    • John 19:30 - “Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
    • Ephesians 1:7-8 - In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
    • I Peter 3:18 - “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…”

Receiving and believing in Christ

    • John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
    • Ephesians 1:13-14 - “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…”

2. Final Transformation 

    • Philippians 3:21 - Jesus Christ will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
    • I Corinthians 15:53-54 - “For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” (NLT)
    • Revelations 21:4-6 – “We will exist where “…. there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.’” (NLT)

A Promise of Prophecy

    • Revelation 21:5 - “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
    • Philippians 3:20-21 - “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Remember and Celebrate!

I Corinthians 11:26 - “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup (present), you are announcing the Lord’s death (past) until he comes again (future).”

    • Salvation accomplished and completed!
    • Our victory is sealed and settled!

Verbs of Completion required to explain what God has done for us:

Romans 8:29-30 - “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Life between the two points of victory – reality check 
  • Life in between these two points often feels like anything but victory.
  • And while we confess that our salvation and our future in heaven is sealed and settled forever — based only on the work of Christ for us — and not by good works that we do — we tend to live this life as if we are trying to earn God’s salvation and make ourselves worthy of heaven.

Reality terms for this life

• Hebrews 12:4  “struggle against sin…”
• Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle against the powers of this dark world and spiritual forces evil”
• Romans 8:18 “our present sufferings” Romans 8:26 – “our weakness”
• Romans 8:22-23 “we … groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for ..the redemption of our bodies.”
• II Corinthians 4:16-18 “outwardly we are wasting away”
How then shall we live?
Each point of victory is presented as the basis for defining and transforming our lives.
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 - “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (see also – Philippians 2:3-8)
  • Colossians 3:1-4 - “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

What we have in this life

  • I John 2:1-2 – “…if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 – “since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
  • Hebrews 7:25 – “Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Gratitude and Hope

When dealing with failure or suffering, and when struggling against sin, let two words guide you to a better place:

  1. Gratitude – rehearse with gratitude all that God has done for you based on His mercy, grace and love in Christ.
  2. Hope – confess with humble certainty all that God has in store for you through Christ.

When confessing your sins, wrap your confession in a much richer context of confessing what God has done for you in Christ and will do for you in the future. This will fortify your soul against sin.

Steve Cornell


Nothing “Happy” about Father’s Day?

Are you among those who can’t see the “Happy” in Father’s Day? 

“Maybe it’s not so ‘happy’ for you. Perhaps you’re one of those people who will play the charade of giving a gift, sending a card or making a phone call out of obligation or guilt. Maybe you carry deep wounds from your relationship (or lack thereof) with your father. Perhaps you’ve suffered from the disapproval, rejection, absence or abandonment of your father. Maybe you will try to drum up some positive demeanor toward your dad on Father’s Day even though you really feel nothing at all” (From: Finding Healing on Father’s Day Jim Palmer).

Many today live with a fatherhood deficit or a damaged view of fatherhood. And, yes, this can have a troubling effect on life. But what we learn in Scripture is that spiritual transformation specifically focuses on restoring one’s need for fatherhood in deeply meaningful and intimate ways.

The inner work of the Spirit ministering to our spirit centers on our need for fatherhood. Ponder the powerful implications of these words: “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” and “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6).

Greek-speaking Gentile churches in Galatia and Rome continued to address God as “Abba.” But they only used this title for God because Jesus had used it and taught his followers to do so. Little children and others used “Abba” when they addressed their earthly fathers but only Jesus used this term of intimacy to address God. There is no evidence in Jewish literature that Jews addressed God with this term.

The teaching of the Fatherhood of God was unexpectedly elevated by Jesus. Although “Father” was only used 15 times for God in the OT, it was Jesus’ primary term for addressing God and for teaching his followers about their relationship with God. He used it some 65 times in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and over 100 times in the gospel of John.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be consumed with the failures or absence of human fathers, let us turn to the affirming work of the Spirit of God as He ministers to our spirits to bear continual witness (present tense) to our identity as God’s children.

From the spiritual cradle to the physical grave, let the Spirit restore the comforting truth of Fatherhood as “by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” to our Creator and Redeemer.

  • “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10).
  • “O Lord you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.” (Isaiah 64:8)
  • “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1). 

Steve Cornell

Spiritual transformation and the fatherhood of God

God is our Father

  • Psalm 68:5-6 – “A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”
  • Isaiah 64:8 – “O Lord you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.”

Jesus said,

  • Matthew 6:4,8 – “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” 
  • Matthew 6:26 – “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” 
  • Matthew 7:11 – “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
  • Matthew 18:14 – “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any one of these little ones should be lost.”

The apostles affirmed God’s Fatherhood 

  • II Corinthians 6:18 – “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
  • Ephesians 3:14 - “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father…”
  • I John 3:1 - “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

“Abba, Father”

It is notably rare to find God portrayed as a Father in the Old Testament (15 times). This stands out even more when one notices how much Jesus emphasized the Fatherhood of God. “Father” was his primary title for addressing God. He used it some 65 times in the Synoptic Gospels and over 100 times in the gospel of John.

Little children and others used “Abba” when they addressed their earthly fathers but only Jesus used this term of intimacy as a designation for God. There is no evidence in Jewish literature that Jews addressed God with this term.

And “Abba” is still found three times in the New Testament.

  1. Mark 14:36 – “‘Abba, Father,’ he cried out, “everything is possible for you…”
  2. Romans 8:15-16 – “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.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
  3. Galatians 4:6 – “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Evidently Greek-speaking Gentile churches in Galatia and Rome continued to address God as Abba. But they only used this title for God because Jesus had used it and taught his followers to do so.

Restored to Fatherhood by the Spirit

The passage in Romans and Galatians offer a deeply significant point for our times by connecting the ministry of the Spirit of God with truth about the Fatherhood of God.

Many today live with a fatherhood deficit or a damaged view of fatherhood. This can have a troubling effect on someone’s life. But what we learn in these Scriptures is that spiritual transformation specifically focuses on restoring one’s need for fatherhood in deep and meaningfully intimate ways.

The inner work of the Spirit with the human spirit centers on our need for fatherhood. Ponder the powerful implications of these words: “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” and “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Rather than allowing yourself to be consumed with the failures or absence of a human father, turn to the affirming work of the Spirit of God as He ministers to your spirit to bear continual witness (present tense) to your identity as God’s children (from the spiritual cradle to the physical grave). Let the Spirit restore the comforting truth of Fatherhood as “by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

  • “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1)
  • “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
  • “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10).
  • Hebrews 12:5-11 - God is treating you as his own children

Thought for earthly fathers:  “A man’s children will be fathered diligently when they are loved in the context of a much greater love.” (Douglas Wilson)

Steve Cornell

Audio message: “Answer the call to Fatherhood”

Is it time to refocus your life?

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”

(Westminster Catechism, see, Psalm 16:5-11; 144:15; Isaiah 12:2; Philippians 4:4). 

When we worship and serve our Creator, we experience the joy and fulfillment we were meant to know. Jesus taught that the greatest command is to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, NIV).

God fills our lives with meaning and satisfies the longings of our hearts when we love Him with our entire being.

Idolatry is allowing our hearts to be consumed and controlled by something other than God. Anything or anyone that controls us in ways that violate God’s revealed will must be viewed as an idol.  This could include excessive activities or behaviors that otherwise might be considered harmless.

Seemingly neutral activities like work, exercise, listening to talk radio, watching cable news, internet use, reading, and sports can become harmfully addictive. Any behavior, activity or relationship that occupies a place in our lives that hurts other priorities must be brought under God’s will.

We inevitably sabotage ourselves when we ignore God; set ourselves up as God, or try to define God on our own terms. When we ignore God, we lose our sense of reference and direction.

When we turn the good gifts of the Creator against ourselves by excluding the worship of the Giver, we disorient life from its intended center. This happens when life becomes a means for meeting my needs and not for glorifying the Creator and serving others.

Steve Cornell