Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Father God

A while ago I asked for suggestions for sermon topics.  One person asked if there could be some preaching about God the Father, as they felt there was some confusion about God the Father, because they had talked to people whose view of the Father is that he is a God of vengeance bent on punishment, from whom we have to be rescued by Jesus.
I suspect one of the reasons people have this view, is because of the way God is sometimes portrayed in the Old Testament.  But as I explained at the Lent Course on Tuesday, whilst there are difficult and uncomfortable passages of Scripture in the OT, we also see that God IS loving, just, forgiving, patient and generous.  In the OT we encounter the God of the Exodus, who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. 
Our own experiences of our fathers can also shape and influence how we view our heavenly Father.  These experiences can makes it difficult for people to relate to the idea of a loving Father, or to experience God in this way. 
People say things like:
  • "To me, God the Father seems distant.  I can't see Him.  I can't hear Him.  I can't touch Him.  I don't feel His love.  It's a lot like my dad.  He provided for us, but I didn't have much of a relationship with him." 
  • "My parents divorced when I was three.  I hardly ever saw my father after that.  Now it's hard for me to connect with God." 
  • "My dad was an angry alcoholic.  He used to refer to himself as G.O.D., short for `Good Old Dad.'  He thought it was a joke, but I have the same distrust and disdain for my Heavenly Father."
  • "There is a child in me who can't tell the difference between Daddy who was always angry at me and God.  Inside, I'm scared to death of God."
  • "When you say that God loves me I have a hard time not remembering my father molesting me while telling me he loved me so much."

Think about your relationship with you father.  How has it impacted your image of your Heavenly Father?  Have you projected onto God disappointments or hurts you experienced with your father? If so this can change. 

God is not a vengeful Father that we need rescuing from.  Quite the opposite, the Father sent his Son into the world because he loves us and because he wants to save us.  That is why Jesus said ‘For the works that the Father has given me to finish – the very works that I am doing – testify that the Father has sent me.’ (John 5:36).   

Just as Jesus said that the Scriptures testify to him, so the Scriptures also testify to the heart of God our Father.

I want to finish with the Father’s Love Letter, which is an intimate message from our Father to each one of us. 

You may not know me, 
but I know everything about you. 
Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. 
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. 
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. 
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. 
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. 
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, 
for all your days are written in my book. 
Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth 
and where you would live. 
Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented 
by those who don't know me.
John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, 
but am the complete expression of love. 
1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child 
and I am your Father. 
1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. 
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless 
as the sand on the seashore.
Psalm 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. 
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul. 
Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, 
you will find me. 
Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you 
the desires of your heart. 
Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. 
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you 
than you could possibly imagine. 
Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you 
in all your troubles. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, 
I am close to you. 
Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, 
I have carried you close to my heart. 
Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away 
every tear from your eyes. 
Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain 
you have suffered on this earth.
Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you 
even as I love my son, Jesus.
John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. 
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, 
not against you. 
Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression 
of my love for you. 
1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love. 
Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, 
you receive me. 
1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you 
from my love again.
Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party 
heaven has ever seen.
Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, 
and will always be Father.
Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child? 
John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. 
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

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