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The Heart of Sonship (Part One)

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The Heart of Sonship (Part One)

By Matthew Hexter 

Luke 15:11-24
Romans 8:14-16
Galatians 4:4-7

For most of us, making hockey a life-time career is unlikely. While I played in high school, once I hit college my uber competitive days were over. I maxxed out my skills and I hit my hockey ceiling. I continued to play recreational hockey and now, many years later, enjoy coaching my sons and helping out with clinics.

Many of us find our identity in what we do. At a party you'll likely be asked the inevitable question, "so what do you do?" And as soon as you answer, you're labeled; your "what you do" becomes your identity.

The truth, however, is that we are not what we do. Rather, we are who God says we are. We are defined by the who, not the what.

In this series, I will focus on one of the most important biblical concepts you will ever grasp, the idea that you are the son of a good and loving Heavenly Father. You are God's favorite, the apple of His eye.

The problem with fully embracing and living out of sonship is threefold: First, we relate to our Heavenly Father much like we relate to our earthly father. I'll discuss this in today's devotion. Second, most of us live like spiritual orphans. I'll expand on this in part two. And finally, many of us are oblivious to the fact we have an enemy and we live in a world at war. This external force does everything within its power to undermine our sonship. I'll cover this in part three.

By virtue of the fact you are reading this, you had/have a father. While some of us had great dads, others had an okay experience, while still others had a horrendous experience. The bottom line is that we live in a broken and fallen world and as such, our earthly fathers are broken and fallen people, all inclusive.

For me, I don't think my dad meant to be a bad father. But after his dad committed suicide, something in my dad snapped and his internal turmoil and anger spilled out on me, my mom and my brother. While divorce is never a good thing, once my parents ended their marriage, the beatings and abuse stopped due to the fact my dad fell into a deep depression. I was then left to figure out life at age 12.

So when someone introduced me to Jesus at age 17, while I totally understood and embraced the work of Christ to redeem me back to God, I continued to struggle with the idea that God could be my father. My cemented beliefs didn't allow any room for a kind, engaged and loving Heavenly Father. I lived like the abused child of a schizophrenic father.  In one moment, God was the kind and loving dad who would celebrate my birthday and the very next he'd let loose a tyrannical rage and beat the tar out of me. Or so I thought.

But the truth is that God is not like our earthly dads. Rather, he is everything we could have ever hoped for in a dad. Just look at the story of the prodigal son (which in my estimation is mislabeled; it really should be labeled the story of the amazing dad).

Here is a young man who had such a distorted view of his dad that he wished he was dead. So his dad does something completely countercultural and gives his son his inheritance. And of course the son blows all of it on stupid stuff. But he comes to his senses and decides that being a slave is better than not eating. So he heads back home and on his way practices his "I'm sorry and I screwed up" speech. But what's totally amazing is that his dad never lets him get one word out. Instead, he runs like a maniac toward his son, gives him crazy hugs and kisses and totally restores him as his son. He then throws him a party!

Notice the dad never waits to hear the son's story nor does he wait until the son has profusely apologized and repented. Nope. The dad knows that his son feels like horse pucky and what he really needs is his dad's heart. Talk about amazing grace!

Do you want to know the best part?

That's God's heart towards you! It really is!

No matter what you've done, said, or thought, your Heavenly Father has nothing but a good heart towards you. His heart for you is truly good. And once you begin to meditate on and live out of this truth, it will change everything. You'll begin to see the world through the eyes of a son, the son of a good and loving Father.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you live your life like a son?
  2. Are you "at home" in the Father's love? If not, why?
  3. In what ways do you not live like a son?
  4. Do you believe God's heart for you is good? If not, why?

Additional Reading

  1. Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship by Jack Frost from Shiloh Place Ministries
  2. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
  3. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

About the Author

One of Matthew's many interests growing up in Cleveland, Ohio was hockey. After being inspired by watching the "Miracle on Ice" live, he worked hard enough to gain a spot on an independent high school team which won their city championship. Matthew and his wife Melanie celebrated 25 years of marriage this past year and have six children. Matthew co-founded a ministry that helped men discover who they are in Christ and walk in their identity as sons. He currently resides in Colorado Springs. Connect with Matthew at matthew.hexter@gmail.com.

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Les Pilgrim wrote:
Thanks so much for this Matthew. What you are writing about is so vital in our journey.
Our very identity must be based on Abba's love for us, His heart for us.

As we travel on this road we hear the verdict of the world telling us we are "just this" and are "a failure at that"!
We desperately need to hear the voice of the Father who calls us "The Beloved".

Thanks so much! Much needed! (Today and everyday)

Tue, October 13, 2015 @ 9:22 AM

2. Dave Jones wrote:
Matthew, what you are sharing here is vital for the Christian life! Great stuff and I look forward to reading the rest of the story!

Tue, October 13, 2015 @ 1:21 PM

3. Harvey Zook wrote:
Thanks so much Matthew!! I'm so blessed to personally know you and this is great eye opener for me as I am putting the pieces of the puzzle of my life together. Definitely was something I needed! Thanks Again!!

Thu, October 15, 2015 @ 8:15 AM

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