Father Heart of God #1
"FATHER HEART OF GOD"
(A Series on the Nature of the Father)
Westgate Chapel 5/12/91 p.m.
- YOUR relationship with your earthly father is one of the most important elements of your life that will shape your understanding of your heavenly Father....and your understanding of the Gospel of Christ.
- NOW, some of these generalizations may be a little oversimplified, but father is the one who helps you integrate your life, to open the world up to you, to encourage you in the sometimes risky development of your gifts and interests.
- LOVING mothers tend to pamper their children, protect them, even give in to their interests and inclinations.....inclining them to be self-centered.
- FATHERS, when they fulfill the role of the husband in the lead of the family, will often sign the child up for service in pursuit of his or the family's needs.
- WHEN he exercises this right to command, with a loving but top-down authority, the child learns the much-needed lessons of bowing to the concerns of someone else besides themself.
- MOTHERS, by nature, promote the fulfillment of their children from behind. Fathers tend to require the obedience of their children from above.
- BOTH are needed, because the first kind of love ministers to the needs of the child, the second dethrones the one it loves and presses him/her into service.
- IN this situation, the child will not only have a helper behind him/her, but will know the safety of being second, of being dependent on someone "greater than I."
- NOW, these are terribly important elements of the role of the family in the development of a child's understanding of who God is and who they are.
- NOW, please remember that I am talking about a family that is functioning within the boundaries of God's grace and Word.
- I BELIEVE with all my heart that some of the trouble that today's young people are in is because father has abdicated his role in the family, and, in many cases, has abused his role......
* And the child grows up either with no respect for authority, because they were allowed to do their own thing and be the center of their own universe.
* Or they grow up with a resovior of hatred and bitterness for a father who abused his role in the family.
- AND before you start taking on guilt for the ways that you might have influenced your children, remember that He forgives the past, and that each of your children at some time has to decide for themselves who they will serve.
* (Tell about Lawrence' rebellion at 19).
- I AM so thankful for the family life that God gave me.
* I had a Dad who was a man of God in the truest sense, but was also human and let us be human.
* Mom loved us and really nurtured us. Her greatest delight, even today, is to fix roast chicken, squash, green peas, and crisp roasted potatoes....smothered in gravy.......
* Dad made sure that I had the car washed, the grass mowed, my Sunday School lessons ready to teach, and his notes run off on the church mimeo machine.
* When I got to visit them last March a year ago, Mom had a fresh fruit cake waiting for me.....Dad wanted to know how things were going at the church and whether there were signs of revival yet.
* We sent a letter off a few months ago, with some pictures, and Mom wrote back about how tired I looked and I should get some vacation and rest.....Dad wrote in the same letter that I should keep at it and never flinch in my duty.
* Mom was worried when I played rugby, and couldn't bring herself to come and watch.....Dad would stand on the sidelines and shout for me to kill whoever was standing in the way.
* When I told them, at the age of 17, that I believed the Lord wanted me to come to America for Bible College, Mom cried and Dad helped me fix an old car to sell and pay for my passage on the freighter.
- WAS there top-down authority? You bet. Like the day I thought that Dad was out on visitation, and I told my Mom that I was going to Leonard's birthday paty....I didn't care what she said since I was 15.
* I learned about top-down authority that day.....and then about responsible authority the day after, when Dad came into my room and apologized for being so rough with me, and explained his intense love for Mom.
- WAS there balance between love, responsibilities, and discipline? Absolutely.
- THE standards were high......for work, for school, for church, for the home......but the love was always unconditional.
* Many mornings, before the sun was up, there would be a hand on my shoulder and Dad would whisper, "Let's go get some shad before school."
* And within 30 minutes we would have a bait out in the Indian Ocean, watching the sun come up over the water, and talking about everything. I just knew that he loved to be with me.
- SO, I come to this subject, not like those who have had an abusive childhood......but rather like one who has been prepared for the Father heart of God by a balanced, loving home.
- SO I have a lot to learn about the those whose family experience left a lot to be desired....but maybe my background puts me in a good position to describe Father to you.
- ULTIMATELY, however, regardless of what I preach, and what the Bible says about Father God, it is only the Holy Spirit who can gradually change your heart and heal the scars, and reveal the Father to you afresh....so that it changes who you are and how you live.
- LET'S pray to that end right now.
ii. our identity is from father
- JUST last week I had a lady in my office who gave me permisson to use her story tonight.
- SHE is in her middle years now, but was raised in a wealthy family in the south......but all her growing up years, from the time she was in a crib, was made to live in the attic.
- HER other brothers and sisters were in bedrooms downstairs, but she was in the attic and never knew why....even to this day.
- SHE recalled the times that she would be afraid and would call out in the night....but no one would hear and no one would come and comfort her.
- SHE remembers the times that her cousin would come in and expose himself to her and she would cower in the corner of the bed and scream, but no one came to help.
- THE family maid raised the children. Her parents were too busy with their social life to have any time for the children.
- CAN you imagine the feelings of rejection and abandonment that she experienced?
- SHE asked her mother, a few years ago, about those years in the attic, and her mother denied that she was ever in the attic....but when she asked her siblings, they confirmed it all, but could not remember why she was consigned to the attic.
- WHERE was the nurture of her mother, the from-behind kind of encouragement?
- WHERE was the top-down safety of her father's authority?
- IS it any surprise that she has been in and out of homosexual relationships for most of her adult life?
- HER need for love, acceptance, security, was never filled.
- HOW does she feel about Father God?
* Rejection....her father was never there for her.
* Lack of trust.....the authority figures in her life had let her down.
* Fear.....no one to turn to for help and safety.
* Abandonment.....the root of homosexuality.
- AND so, in her middle years of life, with both parents deceased now, this lady is in search of who God is.....and who she is.
- THE world is full of people who are in search of their identity.
- WHERE does this sense of our identity come from?
- SOME search for it through introspection......hoping that Freudian Psychology, or some philosophy will reveal the inner man to them.
- SOME search for it through looking back The movie classic, Roots, played to this desire to answer the question of who we are from our past. The Mormon genealogical services cater to this desire.
- SOME look to their achievements, successes, or possessions to answer who they are and yo provide their identity.
- BUT Jesus got His sense of who He was from His relationship to His Father.
- TURN to Luke 2:49.
* Jesus is 12 years old. When His family left Jerusalem after the Passover to head back to Nazareth, He stayed behind and they didn't know it.
* After a days journey away from Jerusalem, His parents realized that He was not with them and they doubled back looking for Him.
* For three days they looked all over town.....at Show Biz, at the the ball park, at Arby's...all the normal places you would look for a 12 year old.
* The last place they looked was in the Temple.
* Listen to His answer to them,
"Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
- JESUS is beginning to understand who Father is in relationship to Him....and that becomes the rudder that steers His life.
- FATHER is One who is top-down authority, in the best sense of that word, with demands for Jesus’ attention, loyalty, and obedience, and Jesus' identity is found in His Father's house, about His Father's business.
- THE maturing center of this young boy, Jesus, has begun in relationship to His Father.
- TURN to Luke 3:22.
* Jesus is starting out His ministry, after 30 years growing up as a carpenter in Nazareth.
* We are not told a thing about those years.....His relationship with His earthly father, mother, siblings.....but life in general was tough in those days.
* And he goes to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
* And as He comes up out of the water, a voice from heaven says,
"You are My Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
- AND as Jesus becomes aware that He is Son, then the significance of that relationship, including the cross that lies ahead, comes into play in His life.
- WITH the voice of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus begins to understand who Father is and then, as a result, who He is.
- IN Romans 8:15-17 we read about the same process of self-discovery as it relates to you and me.....in relation to the Father. It says,
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...."
- NOTICE that when satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, that in his first temptation he tried to raise the question about Jesus identity with the Father. In Luke 4:3 satan said,
"If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
- SATAN questioned Jesus' identity to try and shake His footing. He tried to inject doubts about the voice that had spoken to Jesus at the Jordan River.
- THAT is his M. O. It is what he did with Eve in the garden...."Did God really say??????"
- HE will do the same to you to unsettle you at the very core of who you are by questioning your relationship with Father.
- HE knows that if he can get you away from the security of who you are in the Father....he can undermine everything about you.
- ALSO, notice that satan tried to get Jesus off track by centering on his own need, rather than in His relationship with the Father......."tell this stone to become bread."
- IF you don't take your bearings in life from who God is as Father, and from His Word, then you will take your bearings from human needs, and ultimately from your needs and never get any further than your need.
- IF we are in doubt about who Father is, and what our relationship is with Him, we will be shrinking back, grovelling and unexpectant in our lives and in our prayers. We will hold back, and play safe, in fear that at some crucial moment in life God will not back us up.
- IT is so important to know who He is and who we are in Him as the very basis of our self-understanding.
- TURN with me to Matthew 17:5.
* Jesus stands at the threshold of His sacrifice on the cross.
* His identity will never be tested like it will be at Calvary.
* In Matthew 17, Jesus is on the Mount of Transfiguration, and is enveloped in a cloud of the presence of God.
* And the voice of Father is heard,
"This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."
- WHAT is Jesus identity?
* He is His Father's Son....eternal family relationship with all that that means.
* Father loves Him.....unconditional eternal support.
* Father is pleased with Him.....security from which all the rest of life can flow without the strain of trying to earn His way into good standing and acceptance.
- TURN with me to Luke 22:42.
* Jesus is in the garden, right before His arrest.
* Listen for clues to His self-understanding in His prayer that flows out of His relationship with His Father,
"Not My will but yours be done.."
- TURN to Luke 23:34.
* The scene is the cross, the pinnacle of Jesus suffering and purpose for coming to earth.
* Listen for clues to His relationship with Father that affect how He faces His deepest trial.
"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."
- TURN to verse 46.
* The hour of His death has come.
* He is about to take on the sins of the world, and face separation from the Father as He becomes sin who knew no sin.
* And His last words from the cross are,
"Father, into your hands I commit My spirit."
* Jesus is confident that his spirit will be in safe keeping because God is Father.
- AS one commentator put it,
"To die knowing who you are, in the presence and power of Father is already to take the sting from death....it is already turned in hope towards the third day and the resurrection."
- JESUS' understanding of who He was, lived His life, from His understanding of who Father was and His relationship with Father.
- THAT is the solution for you and me too.
- INTROSPECTION will not solve your identity crisis.
- NEITHER will discovering your roots.
- OR all the achievements in the world that you could stack up.
- THROUGH Jesus provision on the cross, you can be a son or daughter of Father.
- LET me read the Romans 8:15-17 passage for you again.
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
- JESUS was reminded by Father, several times during His life, who Father was......and that He was the Son who was loved, and with whom Father was pleased.
- HOW much more don't you and I need that reminder....so that we can discover who we are in Father's presence.