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Good evening! Thank you to Gordon and the musicians, you're in fine singing voice tonight - those were beautiful pieces and you sang them very well. It's great to be here, and to be here all week in fact. We've been having very special times in the presence of God, I hope you will agree, those of you who have been here. If it's your first night, you're very welcome, and we do trust that you experience what we have been knowing throughout the week as we look into the subject of 'The Father Heart of God'. I don't believe any more in just preaching - don't fall off your seat! I believe that the New Testament mandate was that God worked with them, as they went forth God worked with them - Mark 16 - confirming the Word with signs following. The Word was never meant to be preached devoid of power, and the demonstration of the Spirit of God. People have been waiting behind each night - there have been folk, of course, who have responded in the meeting; and God, I believe, is doing things that we are not hearing about - but there are other folk who have been waiting behind, and God has been touching them in supernatural ways. We give Him the praise and the glory for that. God wants to be a part of our lives - as we saw last night - He wants to be an active Heavenly Father, doing things in our hearts that need to be done, that we might be set free to enjoy His love.

So we're going to look deeper at that tonight. Let us pray, and let us make sure that our hearts are attuned to what He has to say to us tonight. We're not really interested in what I've got to say, it's God we want to meet this evening. So, please, let's come - and I don't know what you've gone through today, probably you've had a very busy time in work, or in study or whatever, or at home - but let's try and quieten our spirits before God, and let's ask Him to come and speak into our hearts this evening. Would you do that? Just pray: 'Lord, speak to me. Lord, touch me. Lord, open the eyes of my heart and give me a deeper revelation of Your love'.

Father, we do thank You that we can call You 'Abba Father'. We thank You for what we have been learning these evenings already. We thank You for what we have previously known of Your great love - but, Lord, we believe that You have been coming afresh to us, and giving us a deeper understanding of Your heartbeat toward us. We do believe, in a prophetic sense, in these last days, that You are turning the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children. We believe that You want to give us a greater understanding of Your great compassion and grace toward us in the Lord Jesus. Lord, as we come to You again tonight, we just say 'More Lord!', we want more! We want to know You more, and we want to have a greater capacity, Lord. Maybe some of us thought we had got full of Your love these nights, but make our hearts bigger, Lord, to receive more, to have a greater capacity to hold Your love. So we wait upon You, and Lord the subject matter tonight, again like last night, will be difficult for some people - and yet it's necessary for the healing of our hearts. We pray that for those who this is particularly pertinent for, that they will be able not just to be touched emotionally but, Lord, that they will be able to reach out and receive healing and wholeness through the power of the Gospel. We ask these things in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Tonight we're going to shift and do something that might seem a bit out of the pattern, looking at the Father Heart of God...

Amen. Now, if you haven't been with us, let me just go over where we've been. We're looking at 'The Father Heart of God', transforming truths from Abba's heart to yours. We started on Sunday evening looking at how Father's heart 'Beats With The Rhythm Of Grace', and we will really be exploring that every night because the whole of the Christian faith is about grace. Then on Monday evening we looked particularly at the figure of the prodigal in Luke 15, and we saw how this love of the Father is 'What Our Aching Hearts Long For', and what they need. We saw that in the prodigal, we saw it in our modern day society, and hopefully we saw it in our own hearts: that there is a hole that spells 'Father' in all of our hearts. Last night we looked at 'Father Flaws', how sometimes - and more often than not, because none of us has had a perfect father, none of us are perfect fathers - there have been deficiencies in our earthly fathers that have affected how we view Heavenly Father. I'll not repeat that, you can get the recordings.

Tonight we're going to shift and do something that might seem a bit out of the pattern, looking at the Father Heart of God, we're going to look at 'Mother Wounds'. Maybe you don't watch TV, maybe you don't have a television - I think most houses do these days - some of us might be better without them; but there are, with all the rubbish that comes across the airwaves, there are some good programs still on. Now, who will confess tonight to watching a programme on ITV called 'Long Lost Families'? Come on now, put your hand up - it's very good, isn't it? I was told about it only maybe about a month ago, a couple of programs had passed by, and I thought: 'Well, I'll have a wee look and see what it's all about'. It's Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell who present this series which aims to reunite family members after years of separation. It offers a lifeline to those who desperately long to find lost relatives - it's a real tearjerker, so, men, be careful! Two of the most common themes are children searching for parents, and parents searching for children. Now, if ever you doubted the importance of a father and a mother, you need to watch this programme. Often it's a mother who gave up a child for adoption, generally during the years when it was a great shame to be an unmarried mother, a single parent. So, because of social stigma, often they felt that this was the best thing to do in giving the child up for adoption. These mothers have borne great regret and shame. Now often the child has been cared for by their adoptive parents very, very well, and yet both the parent and the child have felt that something has been missing. Now, watch the programme, but really what it testifies to is: we all need a Mum and a Dad. That's not to put shame or guilt on anybody who is a single parent here tonight, God bless you, you're doing a great job, keep on doing it - I know it probably hasn't been your choice. It's not in any way to put guilt on people who are living broken lives, and who are part of dysfunctional families through no fault of their own - but, nevertheless, God ordered things and engineered it such that He would place lonely people in families. He intended that all of us should have a mother and a father there with us as we grow up and into adulthood.

Now, I've talked a lot about God as a Father over these last nights, and then last evening we looked at how 'Father Flaws' in our earthly fathers can be healed and replaced by our perfect Heavenly Father. But perhaps your father hasn't been a problem in your life, or certainly hasn't been the biggest problem - it has been your mother. Many people suffer what we might call 'The Mother Wound', damage that has been done because of a broken, disordered, and problematic relationship with Mum. We're going to read the scriptures a little bit later on, but let me just explain a few things about motherhood.

Perhaps your father hasn't been a problem in your life, or certainly hasn't been the biggest problem - it has been your mother...

Do you know that out of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, storks are some of the most loving and affectionate creatures? I'm led to believe that they can live up to 70 years, and legend has portrayed them as monogamous, although they are not strictly so - but they tend to return to partners and nests where they have laid their young right throughout their lifetime, because they have a very strong tie with their young. So if a stork nests in your chimney, in all likelihood it's going to return someday, because that's where its babies were born - very maternal in instinct. The mother stork watches over her young carefully with great protection, and nurtures her babies. That's why, I suppose, in mythology storks have been characterised as delivering babies - or is that true? You can have a chat with me afterwards and fill me in! But even when storks become older, they still have a very caring instinct. Even when elder storks have difficulty keeping up with the flock in the sky, another stork will often come alongside and fly along beside them, and allow the older stork's wings to rest upon the tip of their wings to carry them along. Storks are constantly touching one another, nurturing and protecting one another, and so we ought not to be surprised to learn that the Greeks named the stork after the word 'storge', which describes family love. It is 'storge' that speaks of nurture, loyalty, empathy, affection and tenderness.

Now, there are four Greek words for love - some of you will know this. There is 'agape', which means the love of God, the greatest love of all. Then there is 'philio', which is friendship, brotherly love. Then there is 'storge' that I've mentioned, this family affection; and then there is 'eros', erotic, sexual love. Now the last two that I've mentioned, 'eros' and 'storge', aren't found in the Greek New Testament - but their concepts are in the Bible. In the animal kingdom, and particularly among human beings, mothers are the primary caregivers and bestowers of 'storge' love. So, in the first two years of every child's life, it is Mum who supplies 'storge' love - now, fathers, generally, it's from the third year to the fifth year - but it figures, doesn't it? It is Mum who carries the baby in her womb, in the warmth and protection and security of her womb for nine months, and then at birth she will draw that babe tenderly to her breast, and she will feed and nurture the child. The mother's 'storge' love will bring bonding, and that is teaching the child to receive love, and ultimately to give love - and a lot of folk can't give it because they've never truly received it - but ultimately the child is learning to trust, to be secure. Now, this is how God intended it.

Turn with me to Psalm 22 please, and we're going to read verses 9 and 10 - Psalm 22: 'But You are He', the psalmist is speaking to God, 'You are He who took me out of the womb; You made me trust while on my mother's breasts'. So, just pause a moment, why did God make it that we are nurtured by mother, and then we are carried and fed by mother - ultimately God is saying here: 'I did this so that you would look to Me, and that you would trust Me, just as you trust Mum, that you would trust Me'. Verse 10: 'I was cast upon You from birth', cast upon God from birth, 'from my mother's womb You have been my God'. Now we're going to tease this out a little bit more as we go through.

The tone that we speak to our children in, it figures, is very important...

So during the first two years of life, the mother is the most important figure for every child - would you agree? So your relationship with your mother is the first experience of communicated love, this 'storge' love. Even in the womb, an embryo, from the very point of conception, will in some way know emotional nurture, or conversely not. In the spirit, I believe, in the human spirit it can pick up positive and negative environments. Now secular studies and medicine confirms this: that the child in the womb is receptive to how the mother is, and what environment it is in. Intimacy starts in the womb.

Let me give you three ways that that happens when the child is born. First of all a child receives intimacy and 'storge' nurture love from mother's voice - do you know that a child in the womb recognises Mum's voice? Did you know that? Did you know that a child in the womb recognises Daddy's voice? That's why they encourage Mums to speak to the child before it is born, to read stories, and it's meant to recognise Daddy's voice when it comes to birth. So the tone that we speak to our children in, it figures, is very important - that, as mothers and fathers, we encourage, we affirm, we build up our children. We touched on that last evening, but that will engender within kids a sense of acceptance, approval, safety, rather than what is often the case: rejection. Some kids will testify that they have felt rejected as far back as they can remember, and usually that means they have been rejected from the womb or maybe even before - and often that can be the case. A pregnancy that's not wanted; that the circumstances of conception are not ideal, whatever that is; maybe a mother who is already overburdened with several children, financially at straits, and therefore this pregnancy is the last thing that she would have dreamed.

It's important that a child feels this affirmation and nurture, rather than rejection and hurtful and harsh words - but the fact of the matter is, many of us, even from our mothers, have received this. A mother's voice is very important. What does your mother's voice mean in your life? We said last evening we want to honour father and mother, that's what the commandment says, we want to bless them, and we want to thank God for the good that they have done - but we don't want to live in some kind of ignorant bubble, where we are in denial of the way things really were, and what has been missing in our parental experience. We don't want to, in some way, be ignorant of barriers that can be there to getting through to God's love - so, how has mother's voice been in your life? I know that control and manipulation is a common problem among mothers. Sometimes that can cause problems when relating to God - do you know why? I'll give you an example. I, when I was preaching on the Holy Spirit on occasion, would have talked about how you need to allow the Holy Spirit to control your life - that sounds alright, doesn't it? An older woman came to me and said to me: 'David, I want to talk to you. I have been learning of the damage that a manipulative, controlling mother has done in my life. Do you see whenever you said that word 'control', even though it's to do with the Holy Spirit, when you say that word 'control' there is something in me that balks, that is terrified, and there is a sort of rebelliousness that rises to say 'I will not be controlled by anybody!'' - the reason being, she had been manipulated and controlled as a child and into adulthood, and she was determined that no one should control her again. By the way: she was right. I was wrong, and now I would probably - certainly in that context - talk more about the 'influence' of the Holy Spirit, because one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. He gives us a freedom to live holy lives, He doesn't have us like puppets on a string - this is the miracle of God's grace: that He empowers us in His power to live lives as we should. But do you see how much damage can be done through a controlling, manipulative parent? And particularly this seems to apply much to mothers - her voice is so important. What's your mother's voice to you? Even if she has passed on now, what does her voice convey? What does the tone of her voice mean?

Have you been nurtured by your mother's love? I don't know what kind of looks your mother gives you, but we need that nurture...

But secondly, mothers ought to communicate this 'storge' love through their eyes. You've heard the saying that the eyes are the window of the soul, and that is true. A baby, when it is born, it actually doesn't just drink from mother's breast, it drinks love from the eyes. I was talking a while ago to a lady who had been a foster Mum for many many years, and she had a lot of children go through her home - but there was one time that she was given a very young baby, not long born, but from very disadvantaged circumstances, abusive circumstances. She related how it was weeks before that babe could actually look her in the eye. She would nurse it, she would feed it, she would put it in its cot and try and play with it, and the child would not look at her - there was no eye contact. There are issues of trust there, aren't there, even in a baby? She rejoiced at the day when, eventually, that baby looked and connected with her eyes, and there was contact - and she testified that she could actually feel, as it were, the baby feeding nurturing love from her as a mother figure. It's profound, isn't it, how important our look is?

Have you been nurtured by your mother's love? I don't know what kind of looks your mother gives you, but we need that nurture. Sometimes - and this is a deep subject, and I don't really want to go into it - but sometimes when we have not had the nurture of a mother, we look for nurture elsewhere. When we haven't had that bonding, when there has been separation or deprivation, sometimes people can go to sexual promiscuity to try to fill that love-void. Some other people can comfort eat - it's quite profound when you think of it, just like a baby lies drunk with milk in its Mummy's arms after a feed, that fuzzy feeling can be replaced by comfort eating in an adult - trying to get that sense of satisfaction. Who feeds you? Who are you feeding off? Mum doesn't just feed us with milk, she feeds us with love - or she is meant to. If that's not the case we will crave disordered love, because of a lack of nurture.

So her voice is meant to feed us with love, her eye is meant to feed us with love, but finally her touch - and this could apply also to fathers of course, but we're looking at mothers particularly tonight. Without touch the emotions, and even the body, becomes unhealthy - are you aware of that? Scientists have proven that humans are 4-7 times more likely to succumb to sickness if they do not have a normal dose of nurturing love. Some studies have shown people recover from illness quicker if they have another human being in the home with them, or even for that matter a pet, to supply affection in the recovery. Love is so important. I'm sure many of you can remember after Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled as a dictator in Romania in 1989 that the whole world was aghast with horror when thousands of Romanian orphans were discovered, and they had been kept in these orphanages that resembled concentration camps in World War II - do you remember it? These little children who were rocking in their cots, chained to their cots and their highchairs. They were unwanted, completely neglected, and many people in the West rushed to the aid of these children, to adopt these love-starved kids. But into the mid-1990s the adoptive parents learned first-hand what psychologists had already predicted: that these children, who had never known the nurture of a mother and a father, never been held, never been consoled or shown any form of affection, they were mentally and emotionally crippled beyond repair. Now I'm not saying anything is impossible for God, but without touch and nurture ever in their lives there was, it would seem, irreparable damage. Sometimes when we do not receive affection and touch in the right way as a child, then in our teens we may allow ourselves to be touched in a wrong way. I said one other evening that in adolescence, often the longing for affection can become eroticised and we seek it with the opposite sex and sometimes with the same sex.

How has your relationship with your mother affected your relationship with God?

Well, let me cut to the chase tonight and ask you a question: how do you think your relationship with your mother has affected you? Be honest before God here tonight: how has your relationship with your mother, as it has been, or as it is, affected your relationships with other people? Most importantly of all: how has your relationship with your mother affected your relationship with God? You may have been neglected or abandoned by parents, but listen, you've got to understand this: God does not want you to be broken. Do you understand this? God does not want any of us to remain in a broken state. I've got to say that often in evangelicalism our Gospel has been confined to some kind of pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die, this concept of heaven, an escape route from hell, and you just live with God for all eternity. Praise God that's part of the package, and it's a wonderful part at that, but that's not it all! In Isaiah 61 the mandate of Messiah, the mission statement of Messiah is that He is anointed to heal the brokenhearted - it's one of the many things that He has come to do - to set at liberty the captives, to give recovery of sight to the blind, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, the good tidings of our God. The slaves get set free, the disenfranchised people who have lost family property get it back, and debts are cancelled - that's the year of Jubilee, that's what goes on! This Gospel that we preach is a spiritual year of Jubilee, where the Kingdom of God comes to break in upon our lives - and God doesn't just tell us, 'Now don't worry about dying, because you'll be alright, you'll go to heaven', but God says, 'Get to know Me, and I will transform your life. I will heal the scars of your heart. I will be to you what others have not been. If your mother and your father have broken you, you don't have to stay in that broken condition'.

Now we were in Psalm 22, turn with me to Psalm 27 for a moment, verse 10 - what a verse! 'When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me' - is that a verse for you tonight? Could you hold onto that? Maybe you feel you were never wanted, maybe you were given up for adoption - there is a verse for you. Psalm 68 and verse 5 says our God is: 'A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows'. Do you remember in John chapter 14, Jesus was saying: 'Look, I'm going now to prepare a place for you' - He was going to the cross, He was going to rise again, He was going to ascend to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father. He said: 'If I go, I will come again' - but later on down the chapter He says, 'Though I'm going, I'm going to send another One to you, another of the same kind' - He is different but He is of the same kind - 'I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you'. Some people have an orphaned spirit, an orphaned heart, even with parents.

I want you to see - and we're looking right into the depths of the heart of Father God here tonight - do you know that God Almighty wants to comfort you with His love? All the connotations of that word 'comfort', that's what He wants to do for you! That's why the Holy Spirit takes the name 'Encourager', 'Paraclete', 'Parakletos', the One who comes alongside and lifts up, the Strengthener, that's why the old King James calls it 'Comfort', 'Comfortos', 'with strength'. It's not a comfort, 'there, there', it's a comfort that's like a blood transfusion - that's what we need - with the love of God.

Here's a truth that I want to open tonight to you, and this might be difficult for some of you to take...

Now here's a truth that I want to open tonight to you, and this might be difficult for some of you to take, and you may never have heard anything like this before - but I want to build it upon Scripture. The Father Heart of God is filled with a mother's love - did you hear that? The Father Heart of God is filled with a mother's love. Now please don't misconstrue what I'm saying, misquote me, or misunderstand me - I am not saying that God is female, I'm not saying that. God is not female in gender - and, by the way, He doesn't have gender, He is spirit. Of course, He's always portrayed in Scripture as masculine, so I'm not advocating that we pray 'Our Mother who art in heaven', it's 'Our Father who art in heaven' - OK? So are we clear on that? But, having said that, there is something of God's nature that is reflected in both the masculine and feminine in humanity.

Turn with me to Genesis chapter 1 please, verse 26. Now God is creating the pinnacle of creation which is humankind, and He says: ''Let Us make man in Our image'', there is the plurality of the Godhead, ''according to Our likeness'' - and the 'man' there is the generic term for mankind, it's not just the males, but mankind in general, ''let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them'. Now, do you see that? Did He only create men, as in the males of the species, in His image? No, He didn't. He created - and we're not talking now about headship, we're not talking about order or roles in the church, that's a whole other week, alright? And I'm not doing it! We're not talking about that, we're not talking about work, we're talking about worth, we're talking about value. Every human being - this is why we believe in the sanctity of human life - every human being is made in the image of God! Yes? Are you with me? Both male and female - but, therefore, this means that there is something in the masculine and in the feminine that reflects the image of God. I believe it's this: that within the heart of Father God, there is a mother's love.

Would you turn with me to Isaiah 49? Isaiah 49 verse 15, and I would jot these down if you're not getting the recordings - these are wonderful verses for you to ponder over and meditate upon at a later time. God is speaking in Isaiah 49:15 - listen to this: 'Can a mother forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?'. Now, we've been talking about the maternal instinct that is in the animal kingdom, storks, but what about in humanity - it is the mother's love, and what a mother would do for her children. God is asking the question: is it possible that a mother could forget the child at her breast? And He answered: 'Surely they may forget'. Now it is very unlikely, it doesn't often happen, but we know it does happen - that a mother can forsake the child of her womb. But look at what God says at the end of verse 15: 'Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you'. You say: 'Well, what's that saying?'. Well, listen: why did God, if He is Father, and we know He is Father - we're not disputing that - but why didn't He use the imagery of a Father here? Because He's wanting us to understand that the passionate love of a mother, the affection of a mother, is what beats in His heart for us - even greater than any mother on earth. Though they are so loving, yet they can forget their children, but 'I', He says, 'will not forget you'. Now, what does that mean? His love is even greater, it's even more tender. Verse 16 is also a wonderful verse: 'See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands'. There is the demonstration, Calvary, the covenant of God, a new covenant in the blood of Jesus. He has etched our names on the hands of Jesus! What a picture!

God is wanting us to understand that the passionate love of a mother, the affection of a mother, is what beats in His heart for us...

But here's a perhaps even more graphic picture, turn to Isaiah 66 verse 11. Now God is speaking of Jerusalem here, in verse 10 it says: 'Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her' - but you've got to understand that in the Old Testament, Jerusalem, the Holy City of Zion, often reflected, and God intended that it should reflect His Majesty. Many of the Psalms talk about 'her bulwarks', and the greatness of her splendours reflecting God. So look at this: ''Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her. That you may be fed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory'. For thus says the LORD' - now this is the Lord - ''Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem''.

Now I hope your picture-maker is working right now - do you see what's happening here? Yes, it's Jerusalem, but it's being used as a picture of God's care of His people, His nation, His congregation are there in Zion - and how does God describe His protection and His affection towards Jerusalem? How does He do it? He does it with the figure of a mother feeding a babe at her bosom. He does it with the figure of a child being hoisted on the hips of the mother. He does it with the figure of a little tote being dandled and dangled on the knees of a mother. Listen to what God says: 'As one whom his mother comforts' - now some of you here tonight need to receive this - 'so I will comfort you'. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you!

You remember what we have touched these nights - what is God like? How do we know what Father God is like? Jesus is what Father God is like! The disciples were shooing the little children away, 'Get out of the road!', and telling the mothers, 'Take them all away!'. What was Jesus doing? He takes them and He puts them on His knee, and He puts His hand upon them and He blesses them. I hope you're seeing this. In fact, Jesus stood over Jerusalem with the tears tripping Him, and what did He say? 'O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I would have gathered you, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, but you would not'. Now, you tell me, why did He use that imagery? Why did He use the imagery? Because a mother hen is vociferously protective in maternal love of her chicks, and so God wants to gather us - and, by the way, you look right throughout the whole scriptures, and you will see that God talks about His wings. He doesn't have any wings, you do know God doesn't have wings? The angels have wings, the cherubim have wings, but they are demonstrations and manifestations of His love protecting us and covering us as a mother.

Do you know that your Father God, He wants to hold you, and He wants to comfort you with a love that is greater than any mother-love? Whatever mother wounds you have experienced, He can heal them. Just like we may have 'Father Flaws', He can eternally overcompensate us for them all, because He is the perfect Father; and He has whatever you have missed out on with your mother, whatever it is of voice, or eye, or touch - whatever you didn't have of that nurture and security that you were meant to have had, He can give you in superabundance what you could not imagine! Do you believe that?

Let me ask you: do any of you have difficulty experiencing the tender nurturing side of God?

Now I know this is hard for some of you, because this is the first you've ever heard this - but let me ask you: do any of you have difficulty experiencing the tender nurturing side of God? You know, sometimes as evangelicals, conservative evangelicals, we can be very cold, dogmatic, and orthodox in our understanding of everything. We know what the Bible says about God, but it's not touching our heart - that intimacy is not there. In fact, we actually are bit turned off by a tender, nurturing side of God. Maybe the problem is that you have been so damaged that you don't do affection and emotion terribly well. Have you had any experiences? 'Oh, experiences? Don't talk about experiences!' - What? Life is about experiences! Life is an experience - I hope you're having some! I hope this is an experience for you. You can't avoid experiences, but all of a sudden when we come to talk about God, 'Oh, don't talk about experiences'. Is He not a Person? Do we not relate to Him? If He has the heart of a mother, a greater love than any mother could, as our Father God - do we not experience that? Even the great Martyn Lloyd-Jones talked about how, with our own children, we do love them, and they should understand our love every moment of every day, but there are times when we just sweep them up into our arms and we caress them and kiss them - and there are times when God does that. Do you have any experiences of being caught up with the affection and 'storge' love of Father God?

Does a baby need to do anything to be loved? Does it? If it's in a correct environment, born to a loving, compassionate father and mother - does the baby have to do anything to be loved? No. Having said that, remember my foster friend and the little baby, it was being loved but it wasn't receiving the love - why? Because it wasn't contacting the source of the love, it wasn't looking. Listen tonight: you are loved more than you could ever imagine, and it was demonstrated to you when Jesus bled every drop of blood for your sins. God gave His only begotten Son, but are you receiving that? Are you? Are your eyes looking at your Father's eyes, and are you being fed by His nurturing love?

Turn with me quickly to Psalm 131, I love this Psalm: 'LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty', or arrogant, 'Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me'. Now that's amazing for a start, I mean most of our evangelical bookshops would be emptied if we took that verse seriously, because all the books about this, that, and the other, five and ten views on this and that. You know, sometimes we delve into secret things that are not revealed to us, and we need a dose of humility. But watch this, the psalmist David here is getting humble, verse 2: 'Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me' - that's beautiful. What's the picture there? The picture is a child that has been fed at mother's breast, and it's satisfied, it's full, its content - and so it is weaned, it is happy. That's the way you need to be in the love of your Father in heaven.

Are your eyes looking at your Father's eyes, and are you being fed by His nurturing love?

I don't know whether any of you here tonight has ever seen Rembrandt's portrayal - Rembrandt the artist - his portrayal of the prodigal son, the return of the prodigal son. Any of you seen it? Well, go home and Google it. It's a picture of the old man, the father, and the young man, the prodigal, is on his knees. He has already been clothed with the robe, and their celebration is beginning. The hands of the old man, the father, are on the shoulder, on the upper back of the prodigal. If you look very closely, very closely, one hand is bigger than the other. Did he make a mistake? No, he didn't. Art students for years have believed that one hand represents the father, and the other represents a mother's love, a mother's hand - because that's what was in the heart of our Father God.

Let's all pray. Now God has been moving and touching so many people in different ways, but you know - as was even prayed beforehand in our prayer meeting tonight - it's very easy to look at people who we might know in the congregation have dysfunctional families, or a background of brokenness, and apply these truths to them, when we are not responsible for them. We are responsible for how we respond to the word of God, and all of us, including myself, all of us need this truth and the healing that comes through the Father Heart of God, and through the tenderness that He shows that is greater than the tenderness of any mother. Is there anyone here tonight, as heads are bowed and eyes are closed, and you would be free enough to acknowledge that God has spoken to you this evening? It doesn't mean that you have an issue with your mother, it doesn't mean that you have an issue with your father, it might be just that you have not really understood the full depths of the love that God has for you as your Heavenly Father. Whatever your circumstances tonight, would you be able to acknowledge that God has spoken to you, and that you just now want to receive that love? You might be a Christian, you might not be a Christian - it doesn't really matter - all that matters is that you go out tonight knowing the love of God in your heart. Just for a moment I will give you an opportunity to respond by raising your hand, and then I will lead you in prayer. Is there anyone, and you want to acknowledge that tonight? Just raise your hand. God bless you. Put it down when you raise it. God bless you. Anyone else? God bless. Anyone else in the presence of God, as we are surrounded by a sense of His compassion for us, is there anyone else who will reach out, and like that baby get eye contact tonight with those great oceans of love that are the eyes of your Heavenly Father? Anyone else?

Well, let's pray. If you have acknowledged your need tonight, bring to the Lord whatever scars there are in a father or mother. Would you also please confess your own sin, as to how you have wrongly responded to that, how you have used maybe sins as ungodly ways to cope? We have all done that, maybe we have hurt because we are hurt, maybe we have lashed out because of anger. You confess that and repent of it, maybe repent of dishonouring your parents - even if they have been dishonourable. Would you then choose to forgive them, and acknowledge that before God? Now, it doesn't mean what they did was right, it doesn't mean that you have to feel great about their behaviour or your relationship even now, it's just you're getting out of the way and letting God be Judge. You're releasing bitterness and resentment to Him, and just say: 'Lord, I choose to forgive, I choose to forgive Mum, Dad, for... and the way that that made me feel. I release all bitterness and resentment to You, and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions'. Now ask Him to release you from any bondage from the enemy, and now say: 'Lord, I embrace Your love in all its fullness'.

If you've never been converted, you're not a Christian, you should say: 'Lord, I believe Jesus died for me, and I ask You to forgive me and save me, and make me Your child. I embrace the full extent of Your love now. Would You, by the Holy Spirit, pour Your love into my heart?'.

Now, if you have experienced anything that you want to talk about, that's fine, we can talk with you, we can help you afterwards. Please come back tomorrow night, we will be looking at the 'Elder Brother Disease', the other son in the parable. Friday night we're looking at 'Abiding In Abba's Love'. So please do come back, and let folks know about these meetings. It's been wonderful to be in the presence of God.

Father, may all of us be still, like a weaned child on the bosom of his mother, having fed upon Your love. Lord, particularly we pray for those who need deep healing tonight because of their parental experience, or because of their religious experience, and the damage that has been done to them. Lord, we ask tonight: may they have a holy baptism of the love of God. Drown them in Your love, make them drunk with Your love. For we ask these things in the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Don't miss part 5 of The Father Heart Of God: “Elder Brother Disease

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word.
September 2014

This sermon was delivered at Union Road Presbyterian Church in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth recording in his 'The Father Heart Of God' series, entitled "Mother Wounds" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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