What is the Father Like?

FarSideGodComputerSmallOn Sunday we looked at who the Father is. Many of us have this idea that like this comic shows that the Father is in heaven ready to smite. That if it weren’t for Jesus, the Father would be angry with us. That the Father’s natural disposition is not being nice like Jesus, but anger, wrath, and punishment. But this is not the picture Jesus paints of his Father

We began exploring how the Father is one who goes looking for the lost, and hurting in Matthew 18:12-14. In this passage Jesus is clear that the Father’s desire isn’t for anyone to be lost. That he notices you, and comes to seek and find you when you wander off. The posture of the Father is one of yearning, inclusion, and finding, not vengeance and “smiting”.

The second passage we looked at is Matthew 7:7-11. In this passage we see a Father who loves to give good gifts. And this matters because so often we have this feeling that God is stingy, uninterested, or that we need to “work harder” (more prayer, fasting, or faith) for God to answer our prayers. But Jesus reveals a Father who is generous, active, and approachable. Jesus reveals a Father in heaven who is filled with abundant generosity not scarcity. And this is a picture we need to get straight and hold onto.

The third passage we looked at was Luke 6:35-36. Here we see something that we often forget. The Father is merciful. Jesus is so clear, and succient reminding us the Father is merciful. The Father is not full of wrath, and anger but full of mercy. Jesus isn’t the nice one, while the Father is the angry one. Jesus reveals who the Father is, and he is clear that he is merciful. So whatever else we do with some of the other complex passages in Scripture we need to be clear on this: the Father is full of mercy.

And finally, the last passage we looked at was the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. This really summarizes all the other passages. That when the son demands his inheritance the Father’s generosity is so deep, he is even willing to give when it hurts and will be taken advantage of. We see also that the Father searches and looks for his son, like a lost sheep. We also see the Father welcome home the son with compassion and love and mercy, not judgment and wrath. We lastly see the Father being full of forgiveness.

So the main point on Sunday was to centre on the picture of the Father as revealed by Jesus. One who is loving, generous, merciful, and forgiving. This is our Father in heaven and this should change how we live.

Dads, we need to be Fathers like the Father in heaven.

Parents we need to parent like the Father in heaven.

Christians we need to live and follow the “house rules” and “house values” of our Father in heaven. We need to be about mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love as well

So on Sunday we gave the challenge to get closer to the Father, and live like the Father. This is a good reminder to us because we need to get rid of the idea that God is sitting by a computer ready to smite. We need to get centred on the Father that Jesus reveals.

 

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: The Father is loving, generous, merciful, and forgiving

Take Aways…

  • We have a wrong picture of God the Father
  • Our picture of God the Father needs to be based in the revelation of Jesus Christ
  • If our picture of God the Father is off, so will our lives.
  • The Father’s reaction isn’t to smite but to find
  • Heaven is not about scarcity, but abundance, and gift, and generosity
  • The Father is merciful
  • Jesus didn’t die because the Father was angry, Jesus died as an expression of God’s love not anger
  • The Father Jesus reveals is loving, merciful, generous, and forgiving.
  • Next Steps: Go to the Father. Thank our fathers. Live like the Father
  • The greatest tragedy of our lives, is that we forget who we are. Henri Nouwen

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What picture did you have of the Father in your mind before today’s sermon? Was he generous or stingy? Kind of angry? Forgiving or judgy? What has shaped your image of the Father? What image / passage most resonated with you today? What has changed in your view of the Father after today? What questions do you have? How can you live more like him?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about what God the Father is like. How he is loving, generous, forgiving and merciful. Tell them this is who he is, and who you want to be like. Make a promise to them to try to live like their Father in heaven.

Challenge for this Week: Get close to the Father, and live like the Father

Lessons from My Father: See Good, Give Grace, and Celebrate

Yesterday we talked a little bit about what my dad taught me about God. I shared three lessons that I’ve learned about my heavenly father from my earthly dad.

The first was that God changes us by reminding us of who we are, not who we aren’t. In Colossians 3:12 God calls us holy, dearly loved, and chosen. God reminds us who we are and how he sees us. He doesn’t see us as half-holy strike outs. He doesn’t see us as people he has to love. He doesn’t see us as half wanted wannabes. Instead, he sees us as holy, loved, and chosen people. Being reminded of who you are is what leads people to change and grow. There is a great clip that shows this from the movie Blood Diamond. What’s happened is this young boy has been taken as a child soldier and forced to do terrible things. This is the scene when his father finds him. Listen to how he talks to him.

I love the line, “I am your Father who loves you, and you will come home with me and be my son again”. This is just like our heavenly Father. God the Father doesn’t begin by reminding us of all the ways we’ve failed, messed up, and sinned. He reminds us of who we are in Him and also who we are to him. He reminds us how he sees us as holy, loved, and chosen. That like Solomon in that clip reminds his son Dia, “You are a good boy.”

The truth is that people live up to our expectations of them. And if we only see people as screw-ups and wash-outs, why should they act any differently if we can’t believe differently about them?

So the first lesson was to remind people of who they are and what we see in them. The second lesson was that grace is meant to be given. We love to give grace to nice people, deserving people, or people who earn it and ask for it. But this isn’t grace. Grace is a gift that covers a wrong, that reconciles, and redeems. Grace can’t be earned, it is a free gift. So we talked about how if there is division, tension, or problems in a relationship to think about this question: “What would it mean to give a gift of grace to that person?” It doesn’t mean pretending that nothing is wrong, but instead rising above the wrong and giving a gift of love.

And lastly, we talked about how we need to learn to celebrate. Celebration, throwing parties, and connecting isn’t just fun, it’s actually Godly. In the Old Testament they had celebrations every single month. In the New Testament the Kingdom of God is often related to a party. And in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father throws a lavish party instantly to welcome home his son. The point is that God is into good celebrations, great connections, and a fun party. So we need to as well.

So this week go out and remind people of who they are, give grace, and celebrate. And as you do this, watch as people are changed, because you’ll be living and acting just like our heavenly father…