There is a picture of a nameless tombstone – only the date of birth and date of death can be read. And the question is posed: does your life come down to a dash between two dates? (See App 2)
Today we celebrate a new life – born into a world of opportunity and challenge. What do I want for this new life? Is it happiness? Is it wealth? Is it success and fame? Is it a good marriage and a myriad of lovely children? Of course I want all these…but if these are all there are in life then the saying “eat, live and be merry for tomorrow you die” is the best that I can offer to you!
No! This is what I want for this new life; this is what I want for each one of you:
At your birth I want you to know the love and the presence and the relationship of God.
At your death I want you to have known the love and the presence and the relationship of God – so that you can enter Paradise and live with Him in perfect love, joy and peace forever.
Under 2 weeks ago the world celebrated the day of love – Valentine’s Day – and countless people sent letters (or cards) of love to those who mean the most to them – words spoken that are true for the moment, but so sadly disappear and are burnt up in the furnace of death and divorce far too soon. Well…here is a love letter from God that will NEVER change – and it is sent to you today…
The words you are about to experience are true. For they come from the very heart of God. He loves YOU. And He is the Father you have been looking for all your life. This is His love letter to you.
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1)
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2)
I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139:3)
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:29-31)
For you were made in my image. (Genesis 1:27)
In me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28)
For you are my offspring. (Acts 17:28)
I knew you even before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
I chose you when I planned creation. (Ephesians 1:11-12)
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. (Psalm 139:15-16)
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. (Acts 17:26)
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
And brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6)
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. (John 8:41-44)
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16)
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. (1 John 3:1)
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1)
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. (Matthew 7:11)
For I am the perfect father. (Matthew 5:48)
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17)
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33)
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18)
And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40)
For you are my treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5)
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:41)
And I want to show you great and marvellous things. (Jeremiah 33:3)
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. (Deuteronomy 4:29)
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13)
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When you are broken-hearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18)
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Isaiah 40:11)
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. (Revelation 21:3-4)
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4)
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. (John 17:23)
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. (John 17:26)
He is the exact representation of my being. (Hebrews 1:3)
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. (Romans 8:31)
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. (1 John 4:10)
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Romans 8:31-32)
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. (1 John 2:23)
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. (Romans 8:38-39)
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:7)
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15)
My question is…Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)
I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)
Love, Your Dad.
Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com
Will you accept this Love Letter of the Father, sent to you?
His love will NEVER fail. You may have never allowed Him to embrace you: it’s not too late – do it now. You may have once known Him but walked away from Him: it’s not too late – He’s always out looking for you – to bring you back to Him…
My shepherd, You have tracked me through the wilds,
And unsnarled the wicked thorns that had me caught;
You have cradled me, and carried me for miles,
Every time I strayed away from where I ought.
You have watched the wolves of fear creep in the shadows,
And sent them running frantic from Your staff,
You have seen me headed straight towards the cliff edge,
And swiftly intervened on my behalf.
You have nurtured me, and sheltered me-
However far I’ve roamed-
And never once condemned me,
Just gently led me home.
So when I’m feeling hopeless,
And threatened by attack,
Remind me of the many times
You left the ninety nine to bring me back.
THE BIBLE PASSAGE
Matthew 18: 1-14
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…
6 ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung round their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea…
10 ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
12 ‘What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
We are called to become like little children: putting our trust in our Father in Heaven (Proverbs 3 again!), simply loving Him and letting Him love us, simply following Him and doing what He says – because “Father knows best”.
And once we are His “children” then woe-betide anyone who causes one of us to “stumble” – that is “go off the rails”. Society is constantly doing its very best – and so often succeeding – to cause us to stumble in our relationship with Father God. The world is always seeking to entice us with the bright lights and sweet goodies of “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”. And like the Prodigal Son we are drawn to such things…
How encouraging it is to know that we have angels in Heaven who are speaking on our behalf to Father God (there’s a whole sermon in this alone!).
And then comes the Good News. In this parable Jesus speaks of just how much He loves us all – that He is not willing that any of us should “perish” – literally go to everlasting destruction. We so easily wander off the good path of life, go our own way, forget about Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who wants to gently guide us through life into all the best places. When we go astray in our lives it seems so good at first – the sheep, I bet, loves the freedom and is enticed by the new places it can go and the things it can do. But quickly it will get into problems – caught in brambles, slip over the edge of a cliff. Our lives are a bit like that. Walking our own path seems so good at first – but too soon we discover that things go wrong – we get caught up in the troubles of life, we fall into disaster or tragedy. And then too often we think there is no way back for us, no solution, no-one to save us. Many think that God can’t possibly forgive them for the life that they have been leading. Many others think that He can’t possibly care about them – especially as they are not as good as others.
But here’s the Good News: Even when you wander away from Him, Jesus never gives up on you. You might not even realise that you are in a mess; you might not even realise that you need Him to save you. That’s why this parable does not say that the Shepherd waits patiently for you to come back to Him: He leaves everything and everybody to find us, save us, and bring us back into the safety of our Father’s loving arms.
This is the Father’s Love Letter to you today.
APPENDIX 1: A BEAUTIFUL FILM AND EXPOSITION OF THE LOST SHEEP AND GOOD SHEPHERD
APPENDIX 2: “THE DASH” BY LINDA ELLISI read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end
He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?