The Promise of the Father

June 16, 2018

In an effort to be environmentally aware, this Father’s Day I’ve decided to embrace the ethos of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Most of you know that my Dad passed away a couple of weeks ago, and many of you are aware that I conducted Dad’s funeral and preached at it.

As I was working on my message I thought “this would be a great message for Father’s Day”, because that’s the way preachers think.

This is week four of “Pinkie Swear-The Promises of Jesus” series here at Cornerstone.  And over the past three weeks, we looked at some of the promises that Jesus made to his followers in the gospels.

So, in week one there was the promise of rest, not a rest from our daily work, but a spiritual rest and emotional rest.  By the way, that promise is not an excuse for not serving in the local church.

Week two we looked at The Promise of a Helper.  And it was here we saw Jesus preparing for his death and resurrection, which wouldn’t signify the end of the story simply the closing of one chapter and the opening of a new chapter.  And with that new chapter came the promise of the Holy Spirit, along with his presence and power.

Last week we spent some time with Jesus’ elusive promise of peace and how it comes when we know there is a God and we know how much God cares for us.

Today we are taking a look at a promise of a promise.  In the scripture that was read for us earlier, Jesus is teaching those who chose to follow him to trust him in regard to the needs of their lives.

It’s here we read that great promise that Jesus made in Luke 12:31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Which is not a promise of having everything we want but everything we need.  And that happens when our priorities are in line with God’s priorities.  But that isn’t the promise I want to look at today, instead, we are looking at the next verse.

Listen carefully to the next words of Jesus, Luke 12:32  “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”   It gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Which seems like a great verse for Father’s Day.

The problem is that in order for this to work we need to have a decent view of our father.  If your concept of a father is someone who is abusive or distant then this isn’t the best illustrative device. Dads don’t always get the greatest press, and for obvious reasons, you only have to watch the news or read the paper to realize that some fathers aren’t the nicest people around.

When we were in Australia we met a Christian singer by the name of Peter Shirley and he sang a song called “WOULD YOU REALLY MIND”:

“When I was just a child, I didn’t understand

Why my father left my mother with the waving of a hand.

He told me it was best this way, but I couldn’t figure why.

The solution to the problem made my mother cry.

 

Lord I find it hard to call you father,

My memories aren’t real fond of the father that I had,

LORD I find it hard to call you father, but would you really mind,

Would you really mind if I just called you friend.

 

I know this may be selfish, I know this may be wrong.

But I’m not sure my father loves me, I haven’t seen him for so long.

Lord you’re so much more to me than the father that I knew,

I know that you won’t leave me; your love will see me through.

 

Lord help me to understand, and ease this pain inside.

And help me to forgive, my father’s human side.

Unite us with your spirit, though in flesh we’re torn apart.

And take away this bitterness that’s wrapped around my heart.”

 

Over and over again Jesus refers to God as his “Father” and tells us that God is our “Father”.   And we need to understand that what Jesus meant when he referred to father isn’t necessarily the same association that some people make now when they think of their father.  He’s saying light you’re thinking dark, he’s thinking protective you’re thinking abusive.

You see, when you’ve been physically or sexually abused by your father when he drank the family’s food away, or constantly berated you and told you that you were no good.  When the memory of your father, makes you angry or brings tears to your eyes then it’s going to be really difficult for you to feel good about a God who is called father.

 

You may not even feel like you could pray to someone called father.  You might share Philip Stanhope’s, feelings when he said: “As fathers commonly go, it is seldom a misfortune to be fatherless; and considering the general run of sons, as seldom a misfortune to be childless.”

The problem with our language is that we define it by our own experiences.  We can both be talking English, using the same words but thinking totally different things.

If we are talking about cars and the subject turns to Oldsmobiles I would immediately think of my favourite car which was a 1971 Cutlass Supreme convertible that I owned when I was eighteen.

But if your experience with General Motors products in general and Oldsmobile’s, in particular, has been bad, like perhaps you owned a 1982 Firenza then you would be thinking entirely different thoughts then I would.  And for good reasons.

And so the only way that we can know what Jesus meant when he used the phrase the Father is to look at other times that he used the term father and what it says about his concept of a father because remember he’s talking about his view of his father not our view of our earthly father.

 

John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son . . .

 

And so When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Loved Him

 

Jesus didn’t have to wonder if his father loved him, it wasn’t a maybe or an if statement, he knew it, it was fact not theory.

 

If you look through the parables, the stories Jesus told, you find that the Father is always the good guy.  He’s the one who takes the prodigal son back, he’s the one who gives his children the very best, he’s the one who defends his children.

In other words, whenever Jesus uses a father as an illustrative device it is in a positive sense.  Unlike television where dad is usually the idiot on the show.

You may not know where you stand with your earthly father either because he hasn’t verbalized his love for us or because his actions negate his words, but that won’t be a problem with your heavenly father.

I have heard adults tell me that they cannot remember their father ever saying, “I love you.”

My sister and I never had to wonder if our Father loved us he verbalized it all the time and the last words dad spoke to me were “I love you”

Jesus tells us in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

I know the world is a big place and sometimes when we think of God’s love divided 7 billion ways it doesn’t seem like we get a very big slice of the pie, but reality is that God’s love doesn’t divide like a pizza, not only does every believer get the same size piece but each piece is the same size as the sum of the total.

In other words, God’s love divided by 7 billion remains God’s love, not 1/7,000,000,000 of God’s love.  Jesus reminds us of his Father’s love for us as believers in John 16:27 for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.

What type of love is it that God has for us?  Listen to what Jesus best friend John said, 1 John 3:1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!   We are his children, he is our parent, and not just any parent he is a perfect parent, a parent who loves us.

So, what do you think?  Think you could embrace a Father who loved you enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for you?

The first time we see the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly father is in Matthew 3:17 and it happened at the beginning of Jesus public ministry, right after John had baptized Jesus, he comes up from the Jordan river Matthew 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

And so When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Affirmed Him

Jesus concept of a father was someone who bragged on his kids.

After I preached Dad’s funeral I had a number of people tell me, “Your father would be so proud of you.”  I knew Dad was proud of me long before I preached his funeral.  Maybe that’s not something that you can identify with but it’s the reality of God our father.

Time and time again Jesus spoke about the worth that God has attributed to us, as his children.

Jesus had no doubt that his Father was in his corner and never had to wonder what his father thought of him.  John 6:27 For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

Maybe your earthly father has never told you he thought you were doing a great job, maybe he never said that he was proud of you, but upon your Heavenly Father’s lips are the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

So, what do you think?  Think you could embrace a Father who affirmed you and thought you were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Matthew 26:53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?

I love this particular portion of the Bible.  Jesus is being arrested and Peter pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the guys in the mob.  Now personally I think Peter is maligned here because I really don’t think that Peter was actually trying to cut off the guy’s ear.

He was trying to cut off the guy’s head and just had a rotten aim, and Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away and then he makes that statement. In other translations, it says “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”  A legion was a military term which actually referred to a large unit of infantry numbering up to 6,000 men.

All Jesus had to do was say “sic em” and 72,000 angels with attitude would have been all over those guys, like down on a duck.

And so When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Would Protect Him

It was Sigmund Freud said “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

Jesus knew that his Father was in his corner, that all he had to do was say the word and his father would be there for him.  Not only that but Jesus knew that His Father who is really our Father would be there for us as well listen to his prayer in the book of John 17:11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.

Even at the end of his life, when Jesus was dying on the cross, listen to his dying words; Luke 23:46  Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words, he breathed his last.

Jesus knew that even when things were toughest, that his father was there for him.

So, what do you think?  Do you think you could embrace a father who was in your corner always ready to protect you?

But there is a reciprocity here as well.  Like all relationships, this relationship between believers and God is a two-way street.

In the book of Matthew Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, and his reply is found in Matthew 22:37-38  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.

 When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Deserves our Love  You might recall from our last series that there is no commandment in the Bible to love our fathers or mothers for that matter.  We are told to respect them and to honour them, but we are never told that we need to love them.

But we are told that we are to love God, our Heavenly Father.

And the how of that love is given to us in Jesus’ words in John 14:31  Jesus said: “but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father.”  How would the world know that Jesus loved his father?  Because he obeyed his father.

When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Deserves our Obedience

 Through my many years in the ministry, I’ve heard people profess their love for God but there was nothing in their lives that evidenced it.  And I know that there’s a least one person here today who is thinking “Don’t be judgemental Denn”.   Don’t raise your hand if you’re that person.

But the bible tells us over and over again that if we have a relationship with God it will be evidenced in our lives.  That we will get together with his children for worship, that we will give to God’s work, that we will do some things and not do other things.

John reminds us in  1 John 5:3  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.  Seriously, it’s not like he’s asking you to cut off your right arm.  Remember God’s commandments were put in place for our benefit, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

 When we think of God the Father our minds often go to the opening phrase of the Lord’s Prayer.  In the New Living Translation it reads, Matthew 6:9  Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  But most of us are more familiar with the words from the King James Version Matthew 6:9  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

But however, you say it, it is a reminder that When Jesus Described His Father, He Described a Father Who Deserves our Honour

 Now in order to periodically show you my grasp of the original language I tell you things like the Greek for the word hallowed or Holy is Hagia-zesthia, and it comes from the adjective Hagios which is translated holy but literally means, different or set apart.

And so, the people that Jesus was talking to at the time understood exactly what he was saying to them the temple was different than other buildings, the Sabbath is different than other days, the Altar is different then ordinary things and the Priest is different from other men.

 

What this scripture is saying then is this “Let God’s name be treated different than all other names, let God’s name be given a position which is absolutely unique.”

 

God’s name is not to be taken lightly, it’s not to be used without thought.  It’s not an exclamation nor is it an oath.  it is the name of the creator of the universe, and it’s the name of your saviour.

 

And so, we need to remember that God’s name is Father, but only to those who have accepted the offer of His adoption.  I have friends who adopted a young man in his early twenties, he had been brought up in foster homes most of his life including their home during his teens.

One day he mentioned how he had no family, no roots and so the couple decided to correct the situation and so they offered to adopt him with full benefits, he would use their name and would have all of the rights and privileges of their natural children right up to sharing the estate when they die.  They made that offer and it was valid but the only way it became reality was when John accepted it.  Without his consent and acceptance, it was worthless.

God had made the offer, it’s summed up in the book of John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

How do you do that?  How do you receive Him?  You just tell him that’s what you want to do.

We going to close in prayer and while I’m praying I’m going to pray a prayer of salvation, and if you have never asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and accept you as a part of his family I’d encourage you to do that today.

 


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