The Father – benefits of being His children
Today is Father’s day and upon THE Father, is where I am going to focus my teaching this morning.
Now you may remember that I did not focus this year on Mothers so you may wonder why, this year, I am choosing to place more focus upon fathers than mothers.
- First off, let me say that one of the most popular messages on our church website is the one entitled “The Mothering Heart of the Holy Spirit” while those I’ve taught about fathers are not nearly as popular.
- To me that indicates a need for more teaching.
- Of course also, as an under-shepherd, I honestly try myself to be led by OUR Great Shepherd in where I lead us in our times of teaching and study and that is how I felt led for today.
- Then there is the practical truth that since the beginning of the year, knowing the Father has been where I believe the Lord has led us.
You know, Billy Graham once said (and I deeply agree with him),
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
As you know, the members of the Godhead wove into Their creative work… images and understandings of Their persons and nature.
Perhaps nowhere is this MORE true than in the creation of humanity itself.
Genesis tells us that the THREE persons of the Godhead conspired together in purpose, plan and execution to express and reveal Themselves the most clearly in the creation of man and woman.
Gen. 1:25-27, “(25) God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the cattle according to their kinds, and all the creatures that creep along the ground according to their kinds. God saw that it was good.
(26) Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” (27) God created humankind in His Own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.”
As I insinuated a moment ago, we have pointed out the way in which the precious and indispensable person of the Holy Spirit is very clearly and vividly represented in the female gender.
Today we are focusing upon the Father, which as you imagine would naturally follow is most clearly seen and demonstrated in males and fatherhood.
The reason for this somewhat unnecessary intro is because my desire today is to facilitate an increase in our likeness to Christ in terms of His relationship to the Father.
Knowing the father as he did what did Jesus see in the Father, how did he respond to that knowledge of him and in what way did He show reverence for, submit to and place His trust in the Father so we can follow in His example?
Considerably less so than the Spirit representing females and especially mothers, and the Father representing males and especially fathers… we have, upon occasion, made reference to the Lord Jesus as THE perfect representation of a male child in reference to His interactions with, response to and respect for the Father and the Spirit.
So in looking to emulate Him in all things, and knowing that Jesus is Himself the living Word of God, my purpose today is to look into the Word of God and find aspects of God’s Fatherhood which we need to seek, respect and submit to in our ongoing pursuit of knowing Him more relationally and intimately.
In approaching this subject I thought I’d begin teaching the same way God has chosen to teach all of us through creation and that is by relational examples.
So I have two video clips I want to share which help illustrate aspects of God’s character which we need to become more familiar with and in which we need to demonstrate respect for Him by coming to Him in that capacity.
The first example is one of a man who is recalling his formative years under a godly father and how it has helped to shape his life.
The scriptures say,
“(13) The LORD watches from heaven; he sees all people. (14) From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. (15) He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions.”– Psalm 33:13-15
This illustrates how powerful the influence of a father can be. Or in our case, how powerful the grace of God the Father can be.
Now, there is a way in which God is the Father of every human being who has ever lived. He is the One Who created them and breathed His life into them.
However, in the most literal way, only those who have come to the Father through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ have truly been born of God. For God is a Spirit and we all arrived at a spiritual rebirth when we came to the Father through the Son.
The sad truth is, in today’s world, people both in the church and out are spiritually inept that they hear truths like God being our Father as being largely symbolic.
However, the truth is quite the other way about.
It is in earthly fathers and fatherhood that the symbolism lies while the true reality they emulate and represent are God the Father – as quite literally the father of spirits.
THAT alone is the true and abiding reality.
So please divorce out of your mind any notion of these things representing lesser or secondary truths. Everything we learn about the power and purpose of manhood and fatherhood has its roots in God Who alone IS the truth!
So I am going to pull up on the screen some statistics of the impact and importance of fathers.
I want you to know that as I looked these statistics up, I found nearly 100% agreement across all “official sites” I visited, as you will see to a lesser degree in the three joined pictures above.
For those who, like me, did not know what SDQ testing stands for…
The SDQ has five things they measure on a scale from 0–10. Those are:
- emotional problems
- conduct problems
- peer problems
- pro-social scale.
In the end, the scales are combined (excluding the pro-social scale) into a ‘total difficulties’ score ranging from 0–40.
What this chart reveals is that by Age 3, 8.6% of children tested are fatherless yet that 8.6% represents a whopping 29.8% out of the 47.7% of those who test abnormally.
The study goes on to reveal that this increase in abnormal scores being associated with the fatherless is constant.
By Age 5 13.4% of those without a father represent 18.6% out of the 27.2% who test abnormally and by the age of seven 17% are without a father and they represent 19.9% out of the total 30% who test abnormally.
In each case it is those who have no father present in their lives who represent the greatest portion of those who score abnormally.
Lastly this one circled statistic I found amazing…
If this is true than the incidents of rape in our country could quite literally be reduced by a great percentage JUST by having homes where a father is present!
Of course none of this is to suggest that children have no choice but to fall into one of these categories or terrible statistics due to it being beyond their personal control, but the fact that the numbers are SO OVERWHELMINGLY high in most cases reveals how powerful and necessary the influence of a father is.
I want you to notice that these do not even factor in, if the father is a particularly great father or not.
That has its own special statistics!
However, that also tells us that just having a father present – even if he is far from ideal, is seriously impactful for the good UNLESS presumably the father is abusive.
Now I am going to risk playing a clip for you which I believe is a powerful message which teaches a very necessary truth in today’s world.
It is risky since it is a sci-fi clip from a decade long running show from 1997-2007. The clip is ironically from a two part episode entitled Redemption and the show is called Stargate or SG-1.
Let me provide a brief backdrop for those not familiar with the show.
The show is based upon the movie also entitled StarGate. Its premise is that the Egyptian pharaohs of antiquity were in reality aliens who enslaved humans and deported them off the earth. Some served as symbiotic hosts to this alien race and they presented themselves as gods to all the other humans who were their slaves.
The man who plays the part of the father in this clip’s name is Tealc. His was a man who used to be of high rank in one of those false god’s armies but who defected – something almost NEVER done. He had and has mentors. One just died and is undergoing their burial ritual and the other is the one who encourages him in this video clip.
Tealc’s son’s name is Ryla’c. He was born into slavery but was liberated by his father. Ryla’c later was enslaved again and forced, through brainwashing, to serve these false gods. His father again came to his rescue.
After this the son was ashamed that he was not able to resist the brainwashing that helped to enslave him.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see how this could easily fit into a Christian paradigm.
We too were once enslaved to satan, the false god of this world. In a manner of speaking he inhabited us and sought to control us from the inside out. He used lies and brainwashing to convince us of the truth of his lies and even convinced us that serving him was to our benefit.
Those of us who have defected, who are few in number, sometimes still regress and when we do, we feel as if it is just our weakness which is to blame.
While this is somewhat true, it is not entirely so because we NEVER were strong enough on our own to defeat him anyway. We’ve always needed someone who has been in our place, lived in our same situation, who is stronger than the enemy to come to our rescue. This is both true initially and every day in the Christian walk.
The lie is that our Father looks down on us or is somehow deeply moved with disapproval over us because of our weakness. When in reality, it is our weakness which, when surrendered to His strength, makes us stronger than our enemy. We have to learn to see ourselves through His eyes.
VIDEO Clip 2:You can see the power a father has. It is HIS words, or lack thereof, which define the way the child sees himself.
God has woven this into fatherhood, so much so that we see how those who were led by God, were given supernatural power to name their children and evoke blessings on them as part of their birthright.
So with that backdrop let’s look at some of these attributes as they are seen in our REAL Father and then take those truths with us and discover Him as such in our lives by seeking Him out in those areas, believing in His power and willingness to Father us and then believe in His words as they are spoken to an over us.
God is Maker and Moulder. It is HE Who defines us
The first I will offer is a rementioning of the one I read earlier from Psalm 33…
“(13) The LORD watches from heaven; he sees all people. (14) From the place where he lives he looks carefully at all the earth’s inhabitants. (15) He is the one who forms every human heart, and takes note of all their actions.” – Psalm 33:13-15
God knows you as an individual, like any real father knows one of his children distinctly from the others.
He not only knows you… the WAY in which He interacts with you and intercedes for you shapes you into the person you become.
This is NOT independent of our will. For we saw in Pharaoh how God was working to gain his submission and willingness to yield to bless not only Israel, but Egypt and Pharaoh himself. His resistance to God’s influence began to generate a callous upon his heart. His pride invited a drawing back from God Whose character resists pride. Nonetheless, the one who determined the outcome for Pharaoh was ultimately pharaoh, though God worked to reconcile him but in the end, He declared Pharaoh’s own desires upon his own heart.
This is VERY much the way God works with every human heart. God speaks to us both directly and indirectly. Through His Spirit, through the creation, through life events, our choices and their consequences.
It reminds me of a quote from Fredrick Buechner’s, Now and Then.
It says, “If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us…if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling.”
The challenge to us is – do we believe that?
Consider these passages which speak of God defining us by His Word spoken to and over us, and through Jesus the embodiment of the Word of God:
James 1:16-18,“(16) Do not be deceived, my dearly-loved brethren. (17) Every gift which is good, and every perfect boon, is from above, and comes down from the Father, Who is the source of all Light. In Him there is no variation nor the slightest suggestion of change. (18) In accordance with His will He made us His children through the Message of the truth, so that we might, in a sense, be the Firstfruits of the things which He has created.”
1Peter 1:3-5, “(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who in His great mercy has begotten us anew to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to an inheritance imperishable, undefiled and unfading, which has been reserved in Heaven for you, (5) Whom God in His power is guarding through faith for a salvation that even now stands ready for unveiling at the End of the Age.”
Hebrews 12:4-14, “(4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted so as to endanger your lives; (5) and you have quite forgotten the encouraging words which are addressed to you as sons, and which say, “MY SON, DO NOT THINK LIGHTLY OF THE LORD’S DISCIPLINE, AND DO NOT FAINT WHEN HE CORRECTS YOU; (6) FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES: AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE ACKNOWLEDGES.” (7) The sufferings that you are enduring are for your discipline. God is dealing with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (8) And if you are left without discipline, of which every true son has had a share, that shows that you are bastards, and not true sons. (9) Besides this, our earthly fathers used to discipline us and we treated them with respect, and shall we not be still more submissive to the Father of our spirits, and live? (10) It is true that they disciplined us for a few years according as they thought fit; but He does it for our certain good, in order that we may become sharers in His own holy character. (11) Now, at the time, discipline seems to be a matter not for joy, but for grief; yet it afterwards yields to those who have passed through its training a result full of peace–namely, righteousness. (12) Therefore strengthen the drooping hands and paralysed knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put entirely out of joint (14) but may rather be restored. Persistently strive for peace with all men, and for that growth in holiness apart from which no one will see the Lord.”
1Peter 1:21-25, “(21) Through Him (Jesus) you now trust in God (the Father), Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (22) You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
(23) You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. (24) For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass withers and the flower falls off, (25) but the word of the Lord endures forever . And this is the Word that was proclaimed to you.”
Respecting God as Father
There are a plethora of ways in which this can be illustrated from scripture but I believe one of the best is found in the order and flow of Jesus’ famous prayer.
“(9) In this manner therefore pray: ‘Our Father Who art in Heaven, may Thy name be kept holy; (10) let Thy kingdom come; let Thy will be done, as in Heaven so on earth; (11) give us to-day our bread for the day; (12) and forgive us our shortcomings, as we also have forgiven those who have failed in their duty towards us; (13) and bring us not into temptation, but rescue us from the Evil one.’ For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen!” – Matthew 6:9-13
In Jesus’ prayer, but the entire focus is God as Father. NOT just those parts which speak of His holiness, power and kingdom but even in the things which Jesus requested.
Jesus asks not for provision – but for God’s provision for our needs for THIS day. Not tomorrow, the day after or a year from now, but day by day.
This is one of the lessons of the mana. We gather what we need, with no fear that God will forget to give to us tomorrow. We live day by day in continual displays of honest trust in Him. We are not tense or worried, we know and trust in the goodness and provision of our Father.
Teri and I had to learn that early on in our marriage and we are still learning it in different ways from time to time.
Jesus also illustrate the heart from which we ask for forgiveness to be offered to us. Our request is to be forgiven even AS we forgive others.
In other words, even the request is in the form of submission. Only give this IF we emulate You and Your ways by freely giving forgiveness as we have received it.
Also the request is to keep us from being brought under the power of the evil one. Much like the need of the son from our Sci-fi video clip earlier. We have NO power to resist and overcome our enemy on our own. We look to God in faith to do for, in and through us what we cannot do alone for ourselves. Again – a type of respect and submission.
Finally is another acknowledgement of our Father’s power and kingdom and glory!
It is a beautiful prayer that flowed from the beautiful, reverent and submitted heart of our Lord and Savior.
James also tells us another way in which we show respect and honor to God as our Father in James 1:27,
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
In other words, we show respect by how we live and emulate His character in all we say and do. Be believe in the power of our new birth. That what God has accomplished in us through Christ Jesus is greater than anything the enemy can do or any hold he ever once had over us. We believe that we are children of our father and are therefore destined to have his image fully developed in us as we mature. We absolutely 100% trust and expect this to be fully accomplished in US.
Also Peter agrees when he says,
1Peter 1:13-23, “(13) Therefore gird up your minds and fix your hopes calmly and unfalteringly upon the boon that is soon to be yours, at the re-appearing of JesusChrist. (14) And, since you delight in obedience, do not shape your lives by the cravings which used to dominate you in the time of your ignorance, (15) but–in imitation of the holy One who has called you–you also must be holy in all your habits of life. (16) Because it stands written, “YOU ARE TO BE HOLY, BECAUSE I AM HOLY.”
(17) And if you address as your Father Him Who judges impartially in accordance with each man’s actions, then spend in fear the time of your stay here on earth, (18) knowing, as you do, that it was not with a ransom of perishable wealth, such as silver or gold, that you were set free from your frivolous habits of life which had been handed down to you from your forefathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ–as of an unblemished and spotless lamb.
(20) He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him, (21) are faithful to God, Who raised Him from among the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are resting upon God [the Father].
(22) Now that, through your obedience to the truth, you have purified your souls for cherishing sincere brotherly love, you must love another heartily and fervently.
(23) For you have been begotten again by God’s ever-living and enduring word from a germ not of perishable, but of imperishable life.”
Kingdom, kingship and provision
Though our last two touched upon this point I thought it good to wrap up with this one since it literally touches every aspect of human life and quite naturally it is found later in the same chapter as our Lord’s prayer.
- It reveals the Father-heart of God.
- It reveals His knowing of us and our specific needs.
- It reveals God’s power and kingdom.
- It reveals how proper relationship with God the Father in all these things answers most of the concerns we have in this life…
Matthew 6:24-34, “(24) No man can be the bondservant of two masters; for either he will dislike one and like the other, or he will attach himself to one and think slightingly of the other. You cannot be the bondservants both of God and of gold.
(25) For this reason I charge you not to be over-anxious about your lives, inquiring what you are to eat or what you are to drink, nor yet about your bodies, inquiring what clothes you are to put on.
Is not the life more precious than its food, and the body than its clothing?
(26) Look at the birds which fly in the air: they do not sow or reap or store up in barns, but your HeavenlyFather feeds them: are not you of much greater value than they?
(27) Which of you by being over-anxious can add a single foot to his height?
(28) And why be anxious about clothing?
Learn a lesson from the wild lilies. Watch their growth. They neither toil nor spin, (29) and yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his magnificence could array himself like one of these.
(30) And if God so clothes the wild herbage which to-day flourishes and to-morrow is thrown into the oven, is it not much more certain that He will clothe you, you men of little faith?
(31) Do not be over-anxious, therefore, asking ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (32) For all these are questions that Gentiles are always asking; but your HeavenlyFather knows that you need these things–all of them.
(33) But make His Kingdom and righteousness your chief aim, and then these things shall all be given you in addition. (34) Do not be over-anxious, therefore, about to-morrow, for to-morrow will bring its own cares. Enough for each day are its own troubles.”
The question I want to leave you with is NOT for the purpose of condemning if the answer is not a resounding yes. In reality there are ways in which we ALL fall embarrassingly short of that. But, do you believe even for a second that all the good earthly fathering in the world can keep a child from going on a path towards destruction if the child does not have eyes to see, nor ears to hear the words of their father?
I think you can easily make the connection intended by that question.
Again, this is not a condemnation, but an encouragement and a challenge towards a deeper relationship with the One we have the privilege and right to call Father.
John 1:9-14, “(9) The true light, Who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. (11) He came to His Own, and His Own people did not receive Him. (12) But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, (13) who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of the will of God [the Father].
(14) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1Jn. 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
1Thess. 2:13, “And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].”