The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the family is the most important element of society. Family is the backbone of any society. Undermine the family and you undermine society. Weaken the family and you will weaken society. Disintegrate the family and you will disintegrate society. Redefine what a family is, and you will end up with a shell of a society. Destroy the family and you will destroy society.
The breakdown of the God-ordained family structure is being attacked today. We live in a time when the media mocks and ridicules husbands and fathers. We live in a time when commercials and sitcoms are presenting husband and fathers as imbeciles. We live in a generation of the Fatherless.
According to the U.S Census Bureau, more than 1 in 4 children in the US live without a father in the home. And yet, secular psychologists are convinced that fathers can make or break children. The National Family Strength Project found that having a father in the home is essential to the family strength. The CDC says, “85% of all children who show behaviour disorders come from fatherless homes.” For so many, every Father’s Day is a painful reminder of the absence of a father in their life. Maggie grew up as the only child to a single mother. In her words, she said:
“The absence of my father in my life has led to so many awful things in my life. I constantly felt unloved, unworthy and abandoned. I craved a father figure and protection. This led to me seeking out unhealthy and abusive relationships with men who simply didn’t care about me… I’ll never fully heal from having an absent father and being raised by a single mother”
In comparison to any other time in modern history, children are probably in more danger today. Today, we have guns and violence in the school, we have drunk drivers on the roads, we have mind-altering drugs on the streets, we have predators on the internet, we have immoral teachers in the classroom. Everywhere you turn, it seems there are danger and insecurity. As long as we live in this world, danger is always going to be around the corner. And that is why nearly 3000 years ago, Solomon the wise could say:
“Unless God guards the family the watchman guard in vain.” – Psalm 127:1.
In Proverbs 22:6, Solomon the wise is saying that parents are to train up a child in the way of the Lord, and when the child grows old, he will not depart from it. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “One generation plants a tree and the next generation sits under its shade.” As parents, grandparents and future parent, we are planting trees for the children to seat under. If you plant a tree that is lush and rich with the word of God, they will not only live under its shade, they will survive from its fruits, and they will grow to be mighty men and women of God, and then they will rise and call you blessed.
You can’t keep a child in the house locked up forever. That’s why parents teach the children to look both ways when they cross the road, because, sooner or later, they are going to have to cross it by themselves. Giving children the freedom to choose before giving them the wisdom to choose is a terrible mistake. Many parents give their children everything in the world except the most important thing of all – time. Today, we are more connected technologically and virtually, but often disconnected in reality from the people we live with. A family should stick together, not be stuck with each other.
In Ephesian 6, the responsibility to bring up children in the training and the admonition of the Lord is given to fathers. King David was a great king; he was a great military man; he was a powerful man, but he failed to admonish his children. And consequently, he ended up with rebellion rape and revolt, right in his home… The Book of Samuel tells of Eli the High priest who failed to admonish is two boys, Hophni and Phinehas. The two boys grew up to be wild boys, they abused the offering and committed fornication in the tabernacle. From reading 1 Samuel chapter 2, 3 & 4, it appears quite clear that their father Eli was not even aware that the boys were out of control. Consequently, the boys’ life and their father’s life ended tragically, all because the father did not admonish his sons.
Believers who are fathers need to desperately imitate the heavenly father. “I have tried to do so, but I fail again and again and again, but that’s our calling.” – Dr Michael Youssef. Even the best of our efforts will not do justice to who the heavenly Father is and the way He loves us. We seek to emulate Him but in reality, we never could in a perfect sense. There are many reasons for this, but one reason for this is simply because our heavenly Father sees it all and knows it all (including the future).
Paul Dwight Moody (1879 – 1947), was a wonderful Presbyterian pastor. He was the son of the famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Paul told of a story which he described as the most memorable event of his life. It was an event that took place when he was 10 years old. He was lying on his bed when his father was there kneeling beside his bed with tears streaming down his rugged face. Dwight Moody punished his son wrongly for something that his son did not do, and the moment he became aware of that, he was there kneeling by his son’s bed in tears pleading for his son forgiveness. Paul would grow up to say, “that was the most memorable event of my life.”
One of the big mistakes that some believers fall into is that they equate or confuse fatherhood of God our heavenly Father with that of their earthly father. This is even a bigger mistake and problem if the earthly father was aloof, angry and abusive, that really compounds the problem. Regardless of your experience, whether your earthly father was wonderful or were not as we expect, or whether he was not there at all, it would be a terrible mistake to equate the Heavenly Father with your earthly father.
A preacher once shared about his childhood experience and said, “When I was a boy, whenever I made a mistake or did the wrong thing, my dad would turn his back toward me and never let me see his face.” Then the preacher added, “That’s how God deals with us. When we sin, He turns his back on us and never let us see his face.” This is not only bad theology, but it’s also not biblical. Proverbs 3:12 & Hebrews 12:6 tells us that, “the LORD disciplines and corrects those whom He loves”
Kids don’t understand the silent treatment. Giving kids the silent treatment is only a waste of tremendous opportunity for training and development of a child. When a child does something wrong, parents should use the opportunity to explain to the child the errors of his/her way and lead them in the right way.
Equating your heavenly Father with your earthly Father will rob you of far greater joy than you can ever comprehend. Our heavenly Father is far greater in every way than any earthly father could ever hope to be. God our Father loves his children far more than earthly fathers are capable of loving their children. That is why Jesus taught his disciple to pray this way, “Our Father.” God’s attention is on his children 24/7 and that is what the psalmist meant when he said, “He never slumbers nor sleep” – Psalm 121:4. So, how does the Lord parent us?
- In Genesis 28:15, God said, “I am with you.”
- In Deuteronomy 20:4, God said, “I will give you victory.”
- In Psalm 149:4, God said, “I am pleased with you.”
- In 1 John 3:1, God said, “I love you.”
- In Jeremiah 31:34, God said, “I will forgive you.”
- In Psalm 34:15, God said, “I will listen to you.”
God once and for all to make known himself to humanity sent his one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first century, the relationship between father and son in the Hebrew culture is so intertwin. It is so intimate that the first word a little Hebrew boy ever pronounces out of his mouth is the word, “Abba.” The word “Abba” is the most endearing term in the Hebrew language. It is a word that is filled with intimacy, tenderness, dependence, complete lack of fear or anxiety.
It is no coincidence that when God decided to reveal himself in human flesh, He came as God the Son. Nobody could reveal the father better than the son. Jesus is the only one who could truly describe his Father perfectly. And that is why during his earthly ministry, Jesus paints the clearest picture of his heavenly Father that you can find in the whole of the scripture by using a parable.
In Luke 15, Jesus paints a beautiful portrait to show us the character, nature and love of His Father through the parable of the prodigal son. The character of his Father shines through the father in the story of the prodigal son. The story from beginning to end is about the father; It is about the father’s deep care and compassion for his children; it is about his longsuffering with his children; It is about his quickness to forgive a repentant child.
In telling the story, Jesus does not begin with the sons, he begins with the father because the burden of his heart is for us to know his Father as our Father. Jesus is not just telling a story, he is trying to make you understand the very heart of your heavenly Father, and that is why he tells this story.
When the prodigal son left home, he called it independence; when he was living in sin he called it pleasure; when he lost his money he probably called it bad luck. But when he came to his senses, when he came to the end of himself, he called it sin. When the prodigal son demanded his share of inheritance, with deep hurt and a broken heart, the father let the rebellious son go with all of it. And when the prodigal son returned back home with his tails between his leg, his father welcomes him home, forgives him and honours him. When the older boy falsely accused the father, the father never scolded him, he just said to him, “but everything I have is yours.”
Jesus is telling us that the father loved both his sons. Most observers through the years understood this story that Jesus tells that the older boy represented the Jews in the old testament – the Pharisees who have kept all the outward laws and rituals, but their hearts was far from God and in the far country. And the younger son represents those who are descendants of Esau – the gentiles, those who ran away from God, those who have rejected God, those living in the far country. But when God came from heaven, He opened the door of His Salvation to Jews and Gentiles. He died for both because both needed salvation.
When the prodigal son repented and returned home, the father stripped himself of his dignity by running to embrace his lost son. The father willingly expressed humiliation by running, the father willingly gave up his splendour by running. This is a picture of the whole gospel, the Christian faith in a nutshell. The picture here that Jesus is giving us is that God the Father is reconciling us to himself through the cross of his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. God delights to show mercy (Micah 7:18).
The greatest blessing in the Christian faith is that God never let go of His children.
In the middle east culture, particularly in the days of Jesus, men never run. Only the servant and slaves, and those running from the law run. But that’s what the respected father did, he did what only a slave would do. It’s not surprising that Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver – the price of a slave.
What Jesus teaches about the human race is that by nature we are not the children of God. This was the dispute our Lord had with the Pharisees who thought because they were born Jewish, they were children of Abraham, and they were therefore the children of God. Jesus said, “you are of your father the devil.” – John 8:44. Only Christ is the natural son of God. And only if you are in Christ do you become a member of the household of God (the Church). You can only be in Christ through the grace of Christ; You can only be in Christ through faith in Christ; You can only be in Christ when you have placed your whole trust in Christ; You are only in Christ by being saved by Christ alone
The only way we ever have the right to call God our Father, to cry “Abba” is because we have been adopted. By Faith, we are made sons and daughters of God, and there is no amount of self-righteousness or good works or good efforts that can ever achieve that. Only Jesus Christ made it possible for believers to call the mighty, the awesome God who said, “let there be light” and there was light, the God who put all the galaxies in the heavenly, Jesus leaving heaven and dying on the cross made it possible for believers to call God “Abba.” Only the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ accomplishes that.
God’s Grace is all at Christ expense. The very essence of God’s Grace is unworthiness. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less. To conclude, there are four things I want you to take away and take note off about our heavenly Father:
- When God becomes your Father, ALL fear is gone.
- When God is your Father, He gives you confidence; Confidence to know who you are and confidence to know who you are in him.
- When God is your Father, there is a constant companionship
- When God is your Father, He meets ALL of your needs.
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