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JUNE 21 2015

Fatherhood

 

I would ask you to realize that according to the Scriptures all physical things, all the material things that we see, touch, and come to be familiar with, are created by God to be enjoyed.  But they were not only created by God to be enjoyed. They were also brought into existence in order to teach us who God is. In that sense, they are but a shadow, a figure of the true. Day by day we are contacting so many material objects: we are eating food, drinking water, putting on clothes; we are living in our houses and driving in our cars. All our activities and even our relationships are designed to bring us to knowledge about our great God.

 

God is mysterious. He cannot be seen. Although he did speak audibly to the patriarchs and to the prophets, He is not heard audibly by most ears. Neither can he be smelled or tasted or touched. Even though he is not discerned with the five senses He is known through other means. Primarily through faith. It is not through a blind faith, that is, a faith without any evidence. We should not believe things without evidence. There is a great deal of evidence for God. There is so much evidence that, according to Scripture, among those who either deny or ignore Him – they will be without excuse on the Day of Judgment.

 

Still, even though we may know, should know, and must know that there is a God, He is mysterious. In order to know Him He must reveal Himself. And He has revealed Himself most completely through His Son Jesus Christ.   No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

           

(John 1:18 ESV)

 

If we wish to know what God is like we look at Jesus. He has declared Him, revealed Him, and explained Him both with his words and with his life. Jesus has most fully expressed God. This is why when Phillip asked Jesus to show him the Father Jesus replied in this way:           Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

(John 14:8-9 ESV)

 

Jesus is the fullest expression of God, but He is not the only expression of God. All things, even all relationships, are meant to teach us who God is. Fatherhood is such a thing. God has established fatherhood for more than one reason, but one blessed reason is to show us, as a dim reflection, what God is like. He is like a father!

 

Of course, he is like a perfect earthly father, which no one has ever seen. Yet, when a father carries out his duties the way that he was meant to do then we have an image of what God is like.

All fathers are imperfect but most do some things right. Since today is Father’s Day let us consider the qualities of our heavenly Father that our earthly fathers demonstrate.

 

[I.] God, as our Father, protects His own. When the Israelites left Egypt, came through the desert wilderness, and then entered the Promised Land they were filled with trepidation. The Canaanites were daunting. Some, such as the Anakites, were giants. Here is what Yahweh said to the children of Israel:      29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

(Deuteronomy 1:29-33 NIV)

 

Note first that in verse 31 God is likened to a father carrying his son. What a sweet picture this is. The picture is of a father and a young son, a toddler or even a baby. It is obviously a very young son in view because the father is carrying him, he is not walking on his own, and he is being carried “all the way.”

 

In this picture of God as a father He fights for them as we see in verse 30. He fought for them in Egypt. He fought for them in the wilderness. And He will fight for them in the Promised Land. As a father God is their protector. He is our protector!

 

Have you known His protection? I have. There were many times that I could have died or been seriously injured but God intervened and protected me.

 

A father protects his family. God protects us!

 

[II.] In verse 31 we see that God “carried” the Israelites through the wilderness. What does this mean? He did not physically carry them. They walked. Surely, this means that He provided for them. As we read the account of their journey through the wilderness we do see that the Lord provided for them everything that they needed: manna, water, and even their shoes did not wear out.

 

As a father God is their provider. He is our provider! Praise God! He provides for us!

 

Have you known His provision? I have. All through my life the Lord has provided for me abundantly. Sometimes the Lord will withhold his provision when we are selfish in order to teach us not to be selfish. When you experience a lack of provision in your life the first matter that you should think about is whether you are giving to the Lord what He has asked. That would be 10% or more. We are not under the law of tithing in this age as were the Israelites. But the principle of giving to the Lord first – before our bills, before our pleasures, before ourselves – is a principle that continues in the New Covenant. Since our privileges are greater under the New Covenant than they were under the Old Covenant we should give more than 10%. Ten percent should be a minimum.

 

So, we may experience a lack of provision because the Lord is trying to wake us up to our own selfishness and neglect of being obedient in giving. Still, the Lord is our provider.

 

A father provides for his children. God provides for us!

 

[III.] In verse 33 we read that God went ahead of them on their journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

 

He guided them. As a father God is their guide. He is our guide! We often do not know where we are going. We do not know what to do. He lovingly guides us. He shows us they way we should go. He sheds light on our path.

 

A father guides his children. God guides us.

 

Have you known His guidance? I have. I would like to hear about how He has guided you.

 

[IV.] Turn to Psalm 103:13. As a father has compassion for his children,
    so Yahweh has compassion for those who fear him. (NOG)

 

Again, Yahweh is likened to a father. Fathers have compassion on their children. Fathers are compassionate. God is full of compassion.

 

Have you known His compassion? I have. Think of the times when you were under a suffering. You called out to Him. You called and He answered…because he had compassion upon you!

 

[V.] Lastly, as a father God disciplines. This is the trait that no one likes. But, oh, we so need it!

 

READ Hebrews 12:4-10.

 

When we had our first child someone gave us the book, To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. This book advocates mild, corporal punishment in training children just as the Bible teaches. Per the Pearls, you should use a switch, a slender, flexible shoot or twig. It is intended to cause pain without physical harm. Also, one should begin using it very early: as soon as the child understands the words “yes” and “no.” So, even before the first birthday. When Kai was nine or ten months old he was walking around in his little walker with all its built-in toys that could keep him busy when he got tired of walking. But he never got tired. He would zoom all around the house in that contraption and never seemed to run out of energy. He had free reign in the house. There were only two things that we did not allow him to touch: the trash can in the kitchen and the telephone. When he touched the trash can we would say “no” and switch his hand. We knew he was self-willed when, five seconds after he was done crying, he touched the trash can again. Switch! “No.” Cry. Five seconds go by.  There he goes, touching the trash again! Switch! “No.” Cry. Five seconds again. Repeat! It took about four or five switches to get him to stop touching the trash!

 

This is the way we are sometimes. The Lord must discipline us many times in order for us to obey.

 

But this is the way a father is. A father’s discipline shows his love. And God loves His children.

 

[VI.] Application. I have something to say to children, including adult children. I also have a word for fathers.

 

To those who have had fathers (that would be all of us): it is a day to honor your father. A few of us were abandoned by our fathers. I am not sure abandoned is the right word, but my mother and father divorced when I was only five months old and I never knew him. I had a step-father between the ages of 5 and 14. Although we were never close, he was a decent man. He did not have all of the qualities that we have just regarded. He was not compassionate. I have no recollection of him displaying affection. But neither was he mean. He did not discipline us. Except one time. He was not a guide. Sadly, we did not talk much. He was from Europe and English was his second language. But he was a protector and he was a provider. He labored hard his whole life and provided for my mother and me a house, two cars, food, and comic books. He gave us a home. I honor him today although he is no longer with us.

 

If we were abandoned by our biological father, there may be someone in our life that we can honor who took their place.

 

If your fathers raised you and he possessed all of the qualities that we talked about then you have much for which to be thankful. But because we are fallen and our fathers are fallen there were likely some qualities that he lacked. Then honor your father for the qualities that he had and forgive him for those that he lacked. Maybe he only had one. Thank him for that one!

 

Fathers, examine your lives. Which of these qualities do you lack? You probably know. If you do not, just ask your children and they will tell you.  Take that to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you develop that quality. It’s not too late. If your children are grown and out of the nest, then you can develop those qualities for your grandchildren.

 

Wives, come alongside your husbands and honor them for those fatherly qualities that they do possess. Come alongside them and support them in a positive way (not by nagging) to develop those qualities that they lack. As human beings (and fathers are human) we respond better to positive support than to negative talk.

 

This is also a day to honor God who is the greatest Father of all. For many of us he is the father that we never had. He protects us. He provides for us. He guides us through his word and through his Spirit. He is disciplines us so that we will not remain the way we are. Yet, he is compassionate and merciful. Oh, what a great Father we have!