Abba Father

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In light of tomorrow being Father’s Day in the United States, I wanted to share that Abba does NOT mean “daddy.” I know it is a popular teaching that God the Father is your heavenly daddy, but a closer look at the original languages reveals this is not the case.

Three times Abba Father is found in the New Testament (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). Each time the Aramaic Abba is accompanied by the Greek word FatherAbba Father is a term of respect and reverence. It is an intimate term but again not a term of infancy (“daddy”). “It is a cry of the heart, not a word spoken calmly with personal detachment and reserve, but a word we ‘call’ or ‘cry out'” (George, Galatians NAC, 1994, p. 307). Kenneth Bailey notes, “The Aramaic word abba (father) was used by an Aramaic-speaking person in talking to his or her earthly father. It was also used to address a respected person of rank. A student could use this word to address a teacher or a child his father (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, 2008, p. 96).

All three times Abba Father is recorded in the NT is in conjunction with prayer. Jesus is praying (calling) to His Abba Father in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36),  Paul says the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of believers allows them to address God as Abba Father (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).  The word Abba is Jesus’s normal way of addressing God. Because Jesus called His Father Abba we too as believers may do the same.

Abba Father, thank You for all that You have done for us. May we worship You in a way that pleases and honors You. May we bring You glory in all that we say and do. Lord, may we revere You and keep your name holy. May our conduct reflect You and give You the respect that You deserve. Lord, thank You that You do not abandon us when we sin. Thank You that Your grace is greater! Prepare us Lord to celebrate Father’s Day. For some this day is one of the most difficult Sundays to attend church. Lord, may we not view You like a Father but as the Father, the ultimate Father and the One in whom all fatherhood flows. Thank You Lord for this reader. Thank You Lord that You have designed and know all languages. No language is better than another, hence the Aramaic Abba alongside the Greek Father. Your Word is truly multilingual yet has one message, Christ crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended for the forgiveness of sins.  Lord, may this reader search for themselves what Abba means in its original context. May anyone who reads this blog be a Berean, holding this writing up to the light of Scripture. Father God, thank You for Your care and provision for us. Thank You for being intimately involved in our lives. Thank You that You care for us beyond what we can understand. Thank You Father that we can come to You through Jesus Christ Your Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Hi, June!

Father God, thank You Lord for this new month. Lord God, I cannot believe this year (2019) is half over. Help us to reflect on the year so far and to look forward to what You have in store for us. Lord God, lead and guide those who have just graduated or are graduating. May they allow You to lead in their undertakings. Lord, I ask boldly and fervently that You will raise up a generation on fire for You! Lord God, now more than ever I pray for the leadership in the Church. May we stand for Truth and may we love passionately and boldly. Lord God, prepare us to celebrate Father’s Day. Surround those who need healing with Your grace, mercy and presence. For those who are joyful, may they be joyful in a way that is contagious and draws people to You. Lord, prepare us for what is next and what is next for us. May we never settle in our relationship with You. May we continue to seek Your face, hear Your voice and do Your will. Thank You Father for the gift of this reader. May this reader be renewed and refreshed in You today and in this new month. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Happy Mother’s Day

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I want to live to see Mother’s Day 2020, so I will not include a picture of my mom! I often joked, “my mom gave me life and she will take it back” when I did things that she found less than humorous! While I know that Mother’s Day can be filled with joy and celebration, it can be a day of loss and heartache. I want to celebrate women today. Whether you are married or single, have children or not, you precious woman, have impacted children and people at large in your sphere of influence.

For those of you who are waiting for God to do a mighty miracle in your family or if you think that restoration and reconciliation is not possible, I assure you that it is. My mom and I are as close as we are today because we are relationship tried by fire. I was horrible to my mom for most (if not all of my childhood). I did not understand why she did the things she did nor did she understand me. My mom walked through hell and back, facing my rejection and scorn.

When I first came to Christ, I was amazed and overwhelmed by mom’s forgiveness, mercy and grace toward me! I confess I can be quick to anger and quick to speak. A few years ago, I went off on my mom because I was frustrated. The look of hurt on her face brings me to tears even as I type this. I have asked God to burn that memory in my mind  because I do not EVER want to cause that look on anyone’s face, especially my mom. I am not a mother and I can honestly say that I do not and cannot understand a mother’s love. Knowing my personality and temperament, I highly doubt I would be as kind and merciful. I love you Mom and I am thankful to call you both “mom and friend!”

My mom’s forgiveness, grace and mercy humbles me that our Heavenly Father has forgiven even more. Precious reader, while I do not know what today looks like for you, what I do know is that you have a heavenly Father who is waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32). While your familial relationships may be difficult and challenging, God has given you family in Christ Jesus. May you celebrate the women in your life. May you reflect on how God has used you for His glory and His Kingdom purposes. As God has worked in me and through me, please know that He will also work in and through you.

Father God, thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives! Lord God, may we reflect on the godly  influence that women have had and are having in our lives. Jesus, thank You for elevating women; thank You for calling us to be Your disciples. Lord, fill this reader with Your grace and mercy. Where there is hurt and loss today, I ask for Your comfort. Lord, I thank You for this precious reader. For the men who read this, may they celebrate all the women in their midst. For the women who read this may they receive Your love and the love and thanksgiving from others. For those whose parents and/or children are no longer with us, may they reflect in a manner that brings them closer to You. Father, for those who are struggling with not being a mother, I ask Lord that You will help their heart. Meet them in their desire and pain. Thank You Lord for the gift of community so that we do not have to go through life alone. Make us sensitive and aware of those around us. Lord God, I humbly ask that You will remind each woman today of her love and worth to You and to me. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Hello, May!

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Father God, thank You for this new month! Thank You Lord for warmer temperatures and longer days for those of us in the North. Lord God, prepare us for this new month of May. Lord, help us to hold on where we want to give up. Help us to embrace the monotony of consistency when what we desire is something new and exciting. Help us to live by faith and trust as we partner with doing Your work in this new month.

Lord, prepare us to celebrate Mother’s Day. Lord, I know for some of us, it is a day filled with hurt, loss, longing and unmet expectations. Lord, may we be mindful to celebrate all the women whom You have allowed us to cross paths with and share our lives with.

Lord God, thank You for this reader! I ask Lord, that You will meet this reader right where they are! Lord, may this reader meet with You in different settings. May their heart be filled with gratitude knowing that You are with them! Lord, whether this reader is coming out of a trial, in the midst of a trial, or about to go through a trial, may they be filled with faith, trust and obedience.  Lord, may we keep our hearts, minds and eyes focused on You and who we are in Christ as this world becomes an ever darker place.

Lord, thank You that Your light shines bright in the darkness. May we be vessels of love, hope and healing to this dark and hurting world. Lord, give us ears to hear, eyes to see and mouths to speak Your Truth. Thank You Lord that time is going somewhere. Thank You that You have a purpose and plan for our lives. Lord, may we love You and love others in a manner that brings You glory. Thank You Lord that each of us is unique and yet part of one body. Lord God, may we serve You and each other well. May we be known for our love, even when it is difficult. Lord God, may this reader know they are loved by You and by me. In Jesus’s Mighty and Holy Name I pray, Amen.

Happy Easter!

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“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is NOT here, he is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6 NIV, emphasis mine).

Happy Easter! May the empty tomb encourage you today! May you be reminded that Jesus has defeated death, pain, sickness, disease, loneliness, isolation and fear. Jesus Christ is our Resurrected, Overcoming and Soon Returning King! Celebrate today! Make a joyful noise to the Lord for what He has done for you, for us! Praise the King, he has Risen! Jesus Christ is alive! Death and the grave could not hold Him nor contain Him. The plan of God that is foolish to this world is life to those who believe. Oh dear reader, praising God for you and celebrating with you today!

Father God, thank You for Jesus! Jesus, thank You for Your Victory over death and disease! Thank You that we are free in You. Thank You that we have victory in Your Name and life from the shedding of Your blood! This world is dark without You Jesus. Thank You Triune God for the Resurrection. Holy Spirit, lead us to worship in Spirit and in Truth today. May the Resurrection be very real to this precious reader today! May they cling to Christ as they await their breakthrough. Thank You Jesus that You are alive! May we look for You amongst the living, not the dead! May we tear off our grave clothes and live in the light and freedom of Your grace and mercy! Oh Precious Savior, Beautiful Jesus thank You that NOTHING can separate us from Your love. Thank You Lord that You are preparing us now to live with You in eternity! What an awesome and amazing God You are! When we hear today that “Christ is risen” may we respond in bold confidence, “He is risen indeed!” Thank You Jesus for all that You have done, are doing and will do! We love You Jesus and it is in Your Name we pray, Amen!

Happy Easter (Resurrection Day) to you and your family!

With Love Always,

Amanda L. Sweigart-Quinn

(Mandy aka Blue Collar Theologian)

Holy Saturday

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I find it interesting that the leading priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus said, “After three days He will rise from the dead” (Matt 27:63 NLT). The leading priests and Pharisees went to great length to keep Jesus in the grave by having Pilate seal and guard Jesus’s tomb (27:65-66). They were afraid Jesus’s followers would steal His body and “tell everyone He was raised from the dead!” (27:64). [The allegation that Christ’s disciples stole his body thus holds the dubious honor of being the oldest alternative to faith in the risen Christ as a response to the fact of the empty tomb (Blomberg, Matthew, 1992, p. 424)].

While the disciples forgot Jesus said He would rise on the third day, I cannot condemn them or look down on them. I cannot condemn them for their confusion, hopelessness, shock and despair. I cannot blame them for thinking that all was lost after Jesus’s crucifixion, death and burial. I cannot fault the disciples for allowing the circumstances that they witnessed to overshadow Jesus’s Words that He would rise again in three days. I cannot condemn the disciples for being human and I also cannot condemn them because I would be a hypocrite. I too am guilty of giving into sorrow and despair when I cannot reconcile or make sense of the circumstances that are surrounding me. I too am guilty of giving into darkness rather than living in the light of the Resurrection. I am so thankful that even though darkness surrounds us, it does not have the final word.

May we take some time today to reflect on how dark this world is without Christ. May we pray for our family and friends who do not know Christ to come to faith in Him. I am so thankful that tomorrow Christ turns our mourning into dancing!

Father God, may we take time today to reflect on what it may have been like for the disciples and for all those who witnessed the events of Good Friday. Lord God, may we not forget that even when things are at their darkest and bleakest, Your light and love penetrates the darkness. Even when we cannot sense Your presence or know Your specific will, Lord may we never forget that You are Emmanuel, God with us. Lord, may we not twist what Jesus says like the leading priests and Pharisees. Lord God, may we mourn over our sin, may we mourn over how often we fall short. Prepare us Lord to celebrate Jesus’s Resurrection. Lord God, none of us are anything or have anything without You! Lord God, remind us that we live this life for You and not for ourselves. May we live in the light, freedom and victory of the Resurrection; yet, never forgetting the darkness of Jesus’s shed blood on the Cross that purchased our redemption. Thank You Jesus for what You have done for us and it is in Your Name I pray, Amen.

Maundy Thursday: Servant Leadership

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“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them'” (John 13:12-17 ESV).

Many churches who have a Maundy Thursday service include a “ceremonial foot washing, in imitation of Christ’s washing the feet of the disciples (John 13:5-11)” (Grissom, HIBD, p. 775). I had a professor a few years ago who was adamant that foot washing was the believer’s baptism and should be practiced along with communion.

Regardless of one’s thoughts and feelings on washing feet, what strikes me is Jesus’s servant leadership. Repeatedly Jesus says, ” [He] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45). The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’s mind and attitude stating, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8 NLT).

There are consequences for failing to practice servant leadership. After Solomon died, Jeroboam and other men from Israel came to speak to Rehoboam about lightening the heavy load and taxes that Solomon demanded (1 Kings 12:1-4). Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel from the older men that if he serves the people, they will serve him and always be his loyal subjects. (12:7). Instead, Rehoboam listens to the counsel of his young men who advise that he treats the people harshly (12:8). Rehoboam and his young advisers’ “theory is that servant leadership will not work. Only a bully can handle a diverse kingdom. As Nelson observes, ‘Rehoboam chooses slogans over wisdom, machismo over servanthood’” (House, 1, 2 Kings, 1995, p. 182). The consequence of Rehoboam’s ruling was that his authority was rejected and the nation divided (12:16-20).

Idolatry is insidious, whenever a Christian leader rejects servant leadership they are headed toward idolatry and so are their followers. It is my heartfelt prayer that we do not forget that Jesus’s walk equaled His talk. Christ exemplified servant leadership and His people should follow and lead in the same manner. As Christ obeyed the Father, so we should obey Christ. When we practice serving with humility, Jesus’s “new commandment” will be lived out. We will be known for our love for God and others.

Triune God, may we follow You and not idols! May we follow Jesus’s example regardless of the cost. Lord, may we place Your will and glory above all forms of pride and selfish ambition. Thank You Jesus for Your example! Father God as we reflect on the Crucifixion and celebrate Jesus’s Resurrection, may we respond by living in greater devotion and service to You and to each other. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.