How our Father Chastens 3

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NKJV) 18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NKJV) 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In my last post I shared the process I believe our Father uses when he chastens us. We learned from Hebrews 12 that God chastens everyone he loves. If he does not chasten us, we are not his children. There is a problem in any human society with child abuse. God is not a child abuser. He does not discipline out of anger. He does not discipline because we irritate him. He does not discipline for his good. He only disciplines for our good. He does not use abusive methods to discipline. Let me list the process of God’s chastening as I see it. This list comes from the study of the word and my own experience.

1. God first deals with us personally and inwardly. He lets us know something is wrong. He leads us in his Word to scriptures that point out the problem. He may use the pastor, other preaching and in some cases the prophetic word to bring conviction into our hearts so that we will deal with the problem.

2. If we do not respond to this kind of discipline, he will begin to lift his presence from our lives. We have all experienced this. There are times when we do not feel his presence and it has nothing to do with discipline. When this situation goes on for a long time, we need to ask God what the problem is. I believe we usually know. We simply do not want to face what needs to change.

3. If we do not respond to the lifting of God’s presence, he will lift his anointing. The anointing of God is his enabling ability. It is the touch of his hand on what we can do taking it to another level. We need the anointing for ministry to others but I believe God gives us anointing to live. We need his touch in our home life, our work and our witnessing. When the anointing lifts things just do not work the way they should.

This is obviously a superficial look at God’s chastening but I think any Christian will recognize this process. For each individual, it plays out differently. God can deal with us at each level for long periods of time. The duration may depend on the severity of the sin and how dangerous it is to us. If my children were about to run into the road, my response was swift and seemed severe. That was because I did not want them to get run over by a car.

If we do not respond to the inward dealing of God, the removal of his presence or the removal of the anointing we may find ourselves in the position described in the above scriptures. In 1 Timothy, Paul is exhorting Timothy not to be like Hymenaeus and Alexander. These two men had rejected faith or total reliance on God and, what the bible calls, a good conscience.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul speaks of those who have their conscience seared. The conscience is where the three phases of chastening occur. Paul is speaking of people who have chosen to ignore the conscience until they no longer hear or feel the dealings of God. They no longer realize that his presence has departed from them and they do not care that the anointing has left. We need to take special notice of this as he describes it as common in the latter days. I believe we are living in the latter days and I see far too many with this condition in the church and her leaders.

In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul tells Timothy that rejecting God’s chastening has caused them to be shipwrecked in their faith. He makes a frightening statement. Paul has delivered them to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. I want you to notice that it was not God actively chastening them at this point. They had ignored that. Now Paul had no choice but to withdraw his protection and intercession. They had put themselves into the hands of Satan. Satan does not chasten, discipline and train. Satan abuses.

It seems that Paul is the agent that allows them to come under the attack of the devil. I believe it would be more accurate to understand that God had shown Paul that because Hymenaeus and Alexander had ignored the chastening and discipline of their loving Father God, their only hope was to be allowed to endure the fruit of their disobedience.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is referring to a situation in the church where a person had fallen into gross sin and the church seemed to be allowing it. Sometimes we do not want to be harsh with people when they sin. The bible does say that we should consider ourselves before we are too hard on someone else. However, it is clear in the scripture that there is a point where we cannot allow sin among us. As a pastor for 39 years I understood that I had to consider the good of the whole flock. There is a time to aske the sinner to leave if they will not repent. We must also see that this is the best thing for the sinner as well.

If a person will not respond to the chastening of the Lord including that which God uses the local church to accomplish, we are not helping them by allowing them to continue in their sin with no response from us. Paul says that they needed to deliver such a one to the devil for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved in the end.

We are so temporally minded that we have a very difficult time accepting that statement. We feel bad for the person. We feel guilty that we are not reaching out to them. We want to “get them back into the fold.” In our love for them we may say, “Well, I know he shouldn’t be doing that but we can’t reject him. Everybody sins.”

Paul is not talking about lightly rejecting someone. He is talking about someone who has refused to respond to the chastening of the Lord. Although Paul says we must deliver them to Satan, it could be said that we must let God deliver them to Satan. We cannot fix what God says is broken. The motivation here is not that we have peace in the church or that we can remove an irritant from our lives. The motivation on Paul’s part and on God’s is that this person will come to a place where they will end up with Jesus in the end. That is more important than the temporary hurt that may be caused to them. God is concerned about eternity far more than about today.

This is not what God wants for any of us. We see again that God is not the active agent in what happens to that person. The person has made the choice to reject his Father’s dealing and must now reap the consequences. In my last post, I used the example of a child who rejects the parents training and chooses to drive too fast. We could add chooses to use drugs or alcohol or engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.

The consequences are not the parents fault if they have done all they can to train and discipline the child. The consequences are their fault for disobeying. The parent did not cause the accident or the pregnancy, etc. The child did. The parent will use the opportunity to teach the child but the thing that happens is not part of the discipline, it is caused by ignoring the discipline and rejecting the training.

God is a good Father. He does his part by dealing with us. He gives us leaders to love us and care for us and help in the chastening process. If we do not listen, we will endure hardships. That is our fault. In my next post, I will share what God does after we come to this point in chastening. Thank God there is hope even then!

(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog.   I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom.  I may be partial but it is awesome!)

How our Father Chastens 2

Psalm 51:8-11 (NKJV) 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

In our last post, we looked at one of the most important aspects of knowing God as Father (John 17:3.) Paul said in Romans 8:15 that our spirits cry out to God, “Abba, Father.” Abba is akin to our term daddy. We all want God to be Daddy but he cannot be Daddy unless we receive him as Father. Daddy blesses but to be father requires discipline as well. God is both to us. He will chasten us because he loves us.

Chastening can involve punishment. However, God does not punish as we would punish. He is a perfect father. We are not. His motivation is always and only our good. Our motivations are not always so pure. He does not chasten the way religion teaches. He does not withhold necessities of life, cause us illness or bring us into poverty to discipline us. That would be abuse and God is not an abuser.

I believe there is a pattern to how God chastens his children. In Psalm 51 we see how David responded to God’s chastening. This Psalm was written after the prophet Nathan confronted David concerning his sin surrounding Bathsheba and Uriah. The prophet revealed that David’s sin was not hidden but I think we can see in Psalm 51 that he had already been under the chastening hand of God.

I believe the first way God chastens his children is via his Word and the intangibles of our relationship with him. We have all been in the place where we just knew something was wrong. Sometimes it is nothing but the ebb and flow of life. Many things can cause us to feel out of sorts. It is different when we know that we have been going in a wrong direction or have allowed something in our lives we should not have allowed.

(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog.  Click on the post that talks about the atmosphere created in the home.  It is a beautiful example of what I am talking about.  I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom.  I may be partial but it is awesome!)

Sometimes it is sin but not always, at least not in the beginning. Hebrews 12 speaks of both sins and weights. Sin is sin. It is always wrong and will always open the door to things we do not want in our lives. Weights are not quite sins but they are things that hold us back from the full flow of the power and will of God for our lives. They may be habits, relationships or things that are just getting in the way of our Christianity.

In America, we have so many avenues of entertainment it is very difficult to be without it. I do not believe that movies, video games or television are, in themselves, sinful. I do believe they are often weights. They can keep us from prayer, study and church participation. It is not wrong to enjoy them but if the Lord is dealing with us about something we may need to set them aside. If we allow them to rob us of the things of God, weights can become sin. There are as many kinds of weights as there are people. You know what yours are.

God will begin dealing with us inwardly. He may lead us to some things in his Word that we know are speaking to a sin or a weight that needs to go. God is chastening us. He is letting us know that we need to make a change. If we respond at this point, there is no further need for chastening. If we do not, God loves us enough to make his will clearer and make the chastening more unpleasant.

We see this in David’s Psalm. The language is very poignant. He implores God that he might feel joy and gladness. When we are being chastened we often lose our Joy. We are not glad. David knew why he lost joy. He asks God to hide his face from David’s sin. David sinned. That is what was wrong. The lack of joy was a part of God’s chastening.

There are many reasons we may lose our joy or simply feel “down.” If you know there is something you should change, the quickest way to get your joy back is to repent. If you are not sure, you should ask the Father if there is something wrong. He wants you to know and he will not withhold the information from you. In my nearly 50 years of living as a Christian, I usually knew that something was wrong, I just did not want to face whatever it was.

I believe every Christian knows what I am talking about. If you have been a child of God any length of time you have had times of God’s dealing in your life. If we do not respond to the first type of chastening there is a second step. David reveals in the next level of chastening in verse 11. He cries out that God will not cast him away from his presence nor take away the Holy Spirit.

God will never leave your nor forsake you. Paul tells us that in the next chapter of Hebrews. However, part of the process of chastening is that God will cause the sense of his presence to lift from us. I have experienced this in my life and it is not something I want to experience again.

As with the first step of chastening, there are times we do not sense God’s presence that are not a result of chastening. Some days we just do not feel God there. It can be a physical or emotional thing. It can just be life. When something is wrong we usually know the difference. If the sense of a lack of God’s presence persists, we must go to the Father and ask if something is wrong. Do not be afraid to seek counsel from someone older in the Lord or a spiritual advisor. If chastening comes to this point, it indicates that something serious may be going on. We really need to respond.

If we do not respond to the second phase of chastening there will be a third. The concept of anointing is important to a believer. Anointing is enabling ability. It is the touch of God’s hand on life. We most often apply the word to ministry. However, I believe God’s enabling touch can and should be on all aspects of life. We can be anointed to do our jobs. There is anointing for marriage, child rearing and any other thing we do in life. We may be able to do them in our own ability. The anointing adds a touch of the supernatural.

I am a good public speaker. I know how to present a message. I know the techniques of holding people’s interest. I have been doing it a long time and I can do it in my own strength and ability. I cannot change lives without the supernatural touch of God’s anointing. Others may not recognize the difference but I will. I am sure David felt the lack of anointing on his kingship. There is another character in the Old Testament that is a more vivid example of this kind of chastening. His name is Samson.

Judges 16:20 (NKJV) 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

There is no specific statement that says God disapproved of Samson’s behavior. However, if you read about his life he was rebellious, ungrateful and given to the wrong women. I cannot say for sure that the first two levels of chastening were experienced by Samson. I can say that before you come to this point they will be in your life. Your really want to respond to them and not wait for what Samson experienced.

He had gone too far by the time we get to this verse. The source of Samson’s strength was not his hair. It was his Nazirite vow. No razor was to touch his head. He had been in the wrong kind of relationship with woman before. He had gotten away with it so many times he thought God would continue to overlook it. However, he had passed into the next stage of chastening. The anointing was no longer with him. It had been withdrawn.

To live without God’s anointing is something none of us should want to experience. A very few times I have had the experience and, thank God, it has never taken more for me to come to my senses. In our next post, we will look at the final stage of chastening. You do not want to get there.

How our Father God Chastens 1

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NKJV) 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

In our quest to know the Father we have looked at various aspects of his nature as revealed in his Word. It is important to know that God is a good Father. Just as any human father wants good things for his children and provides those things as he is able; our heavenly Father wants good things for us and he has no limitations in his ability to provide. Certainly, the most important thing he has provided is salvation through Jesus Christ. However, his covenant also makes a way for us to walk in health, prosperity, peace, joy and victory.

We would like to believe he just gives us those things. Like every father, God also wants us to be productive adult believers in a world that desperately needs to see him for who he is. Just as a truly good father provides more than blessings to his children, our heavenly Father adds discipline and training to his relationship with us. He loves us as we are when he finds us. He will never love us more. He also loves us too much to leave us as he finds us. Since we are his children, chastening, discipline and training, must be a part of our relationship with him.

Last time we saw that God chastens every child that is really his. We must not despise this process. It will do more to make us the kind of productive, stable and healthy person than any of the blessings that come with being his child. We must not be discouraged by it. He chastens us to train us and make us more like him. Even when his chastening is painful, it is for our good not our destruction.

Chastening means discipline through punishment. We pointed out that today we often equate punishment with abuse. They are not the same. God is not an abuser he is a father and fathers discipline and even punish to help their children become the people they need to be.

Good parents chasten in many ways. They may speak harshly to their children to make sure they understand that something is wrong. They may withhold privileges but never necessities. I still believe that the rod of correction is an important tool of parenting. In Western culture today, it is considered a terrible thing to physically punish children. I teach all over the world that our culture, wherever we may live, must be subject to the Word of God not the other way around.

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

It is never right to abuse children in any way, especially physically. It is necessary to be sure that we discipline them so that foolishness will not overtake them. Proverbs 23:13 gives us another viewpoint. I will quote it from the Amplified Bible as it makes it a little clearer for our modern ears.

Proverbs 23:13 (AMP) 13 Withhold not discipline from the child; for if you strike and punish him with the [reedlike] rod, he will not die.

I did not want my children to die young. Today we see children dying from things like gang violence and drunk driving to aids and suicide. Can we afford to reject the wisdom of the Bible and risk the lives of our children by not doing our God ordained job? God certainly will not leave us without the love that is expressed in discipline.

When does discipline become abuse? Hebrews make this very clear. In verse 10 we see that earthly fathers chasten as it seems best to them. I did the best I knew how to do as a father when it came to disciplining my children. I was not perfect. Although I do not think any of my children would say they were abused, there were times when I punished because of my own flesh. I was annoyed by their behavior and I just wanted it to stop. This is not good discipline and when chastening comes from that motivation it can lead to abuse. I will go so far as to say that abuse always comes from selfish discipline.

God’s chastening is never from a selfish motivation. When he tells us, either personally or in his Word, that something is wrong it is not because that thing annoys him. It is because he knows better than we do what will bring life to us and what will bring death. His chastening has only one motivation. That is to bring the highest blessing and greatest productivity to us. We must trust that. The more we cooperate with what God is asking from us the quicker we learn and the easier his chastening will be.

This verse also is saying that earthly fathers do not always know the best way to discipline their children. I raised six. Some of them required a harder hand before they would respond. Others melted at a look. Chastening is not a one size fits all process. We need to learn our children and how to deal with them as people. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us and he knows what types of discipline or chastening is right for each of us.

Verse 11 makes a statement that is both obvious and important. No chastening is joyful in the present. He clearly states that it is painful. That is just the way it is. It is designed to produce in the future. If we yield to it we will reap the fruits of righteousness in life. Nevertheless, chastening is a part of the love of the Father and without it we are not his children. He wants a bright future for all of us. It is his desire to bless us but he will not withhold chastening when we need it.

When we ignore God’s chastening we may find ourselves sick, impoverished or discouraged. We may lose relationships. We could even die as a result of ignoring God’s dealings. Religion tends to equate the results of ignoring the dealing of God with the dealing itself. They are not the same.

We discipline our children in the hopes that they will avoid something much worse in the future. God is no different. If a child is in a car accident because he or she did not obey the things I tried to teach them about driving, the accident is not discipline. It is the result of ignoring discipline. Discipline is when I take away the privilege of driving when I see bad behavior. It may include a rigorous lecture on what they did wrong and why it was wrong. The accident is not the chastening.

God does not chasten with the difficulties of life. He will certainly take the opportunity when some bad thing happens to reinforce what he has been trying to tell us all along. The bad thing is not the chastening. How does God chasten his children? I believe there is a process he uses. There is a progression of things that applies pressure to convince us that one way is wrong and another is right. In our next meeting, we will look at this process. Understanding it will help us cooperate with it.

Chastening will never be pleasant. If we understand what God is doing, it will be one of the most important and effective things that God will ever do for us. Blessing is wonderful but rarely changes us. God’s grace provides forgiveness and access to relationship with the Father. Chastening helps us be the happy, healthy and productive person the Father created us to be.

God is a Father Who Loves us Enough to Discipline

Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV) 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

The summer has gotten me a bit distracted so I have been lax in posting. I am back and I want to finish looking at what kind of Father God is to us. We began this study by reading John 17:3.

John 17:3 (NKJV) 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus tells us that the nature of eternal life is to know God. However, he is talking to God the Father. To fully access the kind of life Jesus is talking about we must know the Father not just God.

Here is what we have learned so far.

1. Genesis 1:26 He is a Father who wants every one of his children. He chose to create and then gave man the right to participate in creation. He wanted man to fill the earth with his children. He wants you.

2. John 3:16 He is a Father who will never abandon his children. His created family had overwhelmingly rejected him as their Father. He provided for himself a perfect son. He could have abandoned those who abandoned him. Instead he “gave his only begotten son” so that his abandoned children could once again have access to life. He will not abandon you.

3. Luke 11:11-13 and James 1:16-18 God is a Father who gives good things to his children. Anything that comes from him is good. It may not seem good at first, but in the long term it will be the best thing for our lives. In the short term, he will do everything he can to bless us with health, wealth and wellbeing. No earthly parent would do less and God is a far better Father than any of us. He will not give us what we want if it will hurt us even if we think it is what we need.

That brings me to the next thing the Word tells us about what kind of Father God really is. This is one that is not popular today but it is one of the most important aspects of parenthood. God loves us enough to discipline and train us so we can be the kind of people who will bring glory to him and fulfill the destiny he has planned for us.

There is a real press in today’s bible teaching to say that God loves us and therefore he will not let anything bad happen to us. There is truth to that statement. However, the problem is how we define bad. There is a message that says because of God’s love and grace, sin does not matter. There is a movement away from christian discipline and sacrifice towards the sentiment that says God’s grace will make everything we do alright. This is not true.

The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23 has not been rescinded. That is not the Old Testament nor even a quote from the Old Testament. It is a New Testament statement made by the greatest expert on grace who ever lived, the apostle Paul. God is a Father who knows what is good for us and what is not. Sin and a lifestyle outside of the constraints of biblical principles will hurt us. Maybe not today but at some point, it will bring bad things into our lives, the lives of those around us and it will compromise our ability to fulfill God’s purpose in our world.

One of the most important jobs any father has is to prepare his children to be productive adults. If a father does not discipline his children he is not a good father. If he does not train them to do good and avoid evil he sends a liability into the world not an asset. He will ensure that his children will not be happy or productive and they will not bring happiness others. If they obtain natural success it will be at the expense of inward success. We would not praise that kind of a father and God would never be that kind of a father.

There was a famous child psychologist who advocated a method of child rearing that eliminated discipline and punishment of any kind. People were encouraged to let their children find their own way. They were told to encourage whatever they did. They should not require anything of them. The result was one of the most unruly, ungodly and unproductive generations in the history of our country. That is not parenting!

God is a perfect Father who loves us too much to neglect our discipline and training. He has standards that he will not compromise not matter how uncomfortable they may make us. He knows what will bless us and make us productive as well as what will compromise and destroy us. He created us. He knows what we need and he knows what he created us to be in life. His choice is to lead us with our cooperation and submission. If we will not cooperate nor submit, he will help us by correcting our behavior.

The scripture quoted above makes some powerful statements. We should not despise God’s chastening but be encouraged by it. We should not be discouraged when we are rebuked by him. The word rebuke is very strong. It means to convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke. The English definition of rebuke is to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.

Any good parent knows that they must give their children love, acceptance and encouragement. However, they also know that if they do not “rebuke” when necessary their children will lack some very important things in life. We do not like rebukes when they come to us. They make us feel bad. Today that is the most important consideration. A father knows that feeling bad for a moment can lead to a lifetime of being better. God is a very good Father.

Do not be discouraged by God’s rebuke. Obey it. Conform to what it is trying to change in your life. You will not regret the changes that he is trying to make.

The language in this verse does not get easier. It says that the Lord chastens everyone he loves. In this chapter, it goes on to say that if a person is never chastened it is because he is not loved. God the Father loves you!

Chasten is an interesting word. It carries with it the meaning of discipline through punishment. We often equate punishment with abuse. They are not the same thing. The writer of Hebrews makes that clear. Abuse is when we punish in extreme and to satisfy our own flesh and anger. Chastening is punishment that desires only the best for the one chastened.

This word also carries the idea of training. I raised six kids. When they were small they often wanted to touch things that could hurt them. We had a wood stove in one house where we lived. It would get very hot. When the youngest of the children tried to touch it I told them no. When they persisted, I got louder and more disapproving in my tone. Finally, I would slap their hand and say, “NO!” This was not abuse. It was training. I inflicted a small but safe pain to train them that touching the stove meant greater more dangerous pain.

The writer says that God the Father loves us enough to “scourge” us if necessary. That means he will whip us if necessary. The term is certainly figurative. He is not going to damage us the way a Roman scourge damaged its victims. He will however, make our chastening as severe as necessary for training. Not because he hates us. Not because he simply wants us to “do it his way.” He chastens us because he knows a better way with better wages than sin.

Next I want to look at how God chastens. It is not like we chasten. Its only aim is to bring us closer to God.

God is a Father who Gives Good Things

Luke 11:11-13 (NKJV) 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

We have been meditating what Jesus declared in John 17:3 that the essence of eternal life is to know God. Although Jesus does not use the word “Father” in this verse he opens the prayer by praying to his Father. In verse three he says eternal life is to “know you the only true God.” The God we must know to partake of eternal life is the Father. He is not just talking about living forever here. That is actually a result of knowing

We have looked at who the Father God is in two scriptural ideas.

1. Genesis 1:26 He is a Father who wants every one of his children. He chose to create and then gave man the right to participate in creation. He wanted man to fill the earth with his children. He wants you.

2. John 3:16 He is a Father who will never abandon his children. His created family had overwhelmingly rejected him as their Father. They rejected his ways and his commandments. They chose to follow other Gods. He provided for himself a perfect son. He could have abandoned those who abandoned him. Instead he “gave his only begotten son” so that his abandoned children could once again have access to life. He will not abandon you.

Today I want to look at another revelation of the kind of Father God is to all those who receive him. In the scripture quoted above, Jesus is revealing the Father to us by comparing him with the best of natural fatherhood. A natural father gives good gifts to his children. He will not give his child a stone if he asks for bread. If he asks for fish he will not give him a snake nor a scorpion instead of an egg. That is common sense.

We do not always understand that our Heavenly Father is far better than the best fatherhood natural man has to offer. These examples have to do with food and necessities of life. Any father worth his salt is going to provide for his children. We know that there are many fathers in our world who provide for their own flesh before they provide for their children. Even the best of us fall prey to this. What Jesus wants us to see is that God never does.

There are many people whose experience with their father was not good. Their father may not have had the resources to give them the gifts they perceived as good. Sometimes it is not monetary resources that are lacking. Fathers are people. They had lives before they were fathers. They had fathers of their own. Many fathers, especially those who do not know God, simply do not have the emotional resources to meet the needs of their children. They simply do not have “good gifts” to give.

One of the most depressing statistics of my pastoral life is the percentage of people that come to church having been abused. Sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically and sometimes sexually. Over the years the I pastored churches I would put the percentage at somewhere around 60% of the people who have passed through our doors. More often than not the abuser has been a father or a mother. Both can affect our ability to receive God as the ultimate parent.

Your natural father may have withheld good things from you. I am not talking about things nearly as much as I am about emotional needs. I worked with a young lady who was beautiful. She was involved in beauty pageants. Yet she would not accept that she was a beautiful woman. All the recognition that came from others could not make up for what her father did not provide her.

In another case, a young woman was initially loved by her Daddy. Then he went off to war and came back a different man. How many could relate to this story after decades of war in the middle east? Instead of a loving and accepting father she became the object physical and emotional abuse. How do you think she saw the “Father God?”

She is one of many, some who left the church, who could not accept teaching that required they receive God as Father. I could teach on Jesus, the Lord or the Holy Spirit, but I could not teach on the Father. They would stiffen up and get angry. Their reaction was one of pain but it kept them from knowing the Father.

Men and boys are certainly not immune. I have dealt with more than one man who was demanding and critical of their children. They could not give what their father had never given them, love and acceptance. If they did not perform up to expectations they were rejected and disapproved. They did not want to be that way with their own children but what they lived they became and another generation could not understand a Father who can love unconditionally.

There are also those who were not abused by their parents. No parents are perfect. Some people see abuse but it is in their own perception of how they were treated. They had good parents that did the best they could but the real enemy, Satan, somehow created so much strife and confusion that affect is the same. They cannot know God asFather because they cannot keep from judging him by their experience or their perception. According to John 17 none of these people, whether their experience is real or perceived, could access the power of eternal life because they cannot know God as Father.

Our Father is not like fathers who withhold good things, whether emotional or financial, from his children. He will never give us s serpent when we need a fish. He will provide us the bread of life that will sustain us and not give us a rock instead to “knock some sense into us.” He will only give us what will bless us, strengthen us, encourage us and help us to grow.

James 1:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God. If we come to him as Father that is what we will find.

Today, we live in a comfort and things based society. So much of how we determine good is based on what is pleasant. We are a society of the psychology of “feeling good.” If it makes us feel good it is a good gift. God will not withhold things that bring blessing and good feelings into our lives. But the word Father implies someone who knows better than we do. God will not withhold the good gift we need even at the expense of the thing we want. God loves us as we are, but like any good father he will not leave us there. He will encourage us and accept us as we are. Then he will lead us, guide us, train us and even discipline us until we become what we need to be. What gift could be better than helping us become true adults in the Kingdom of God.

God is a Father who provides good things for his children. He is an almighty Father for whom nothing is impossible. We must come to him knowing that and trusting that every gift that comes from him is good for us and will produce good things in our lives.

Come to him. Do not be afraid of the Father. He will help you understand and reveal himself to you as he really is.

His Only Begotten Son

John 3:16-17 (NKJV) 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

In John 17:3, Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God and Jesus whom he sent. We have seen that in the context Jesus was speaking of God as the Father. Eternal life is the new life that Paul wrote about in Romans. 6. It is the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. We can access the kind of life that we will enjoy for eternity while we live here on earth. To do so we must know the Father.

During the Father’s Day service at our church we sang songs about how good the Father is. We heard some testimonies about the goodness of God in the lives of some of his children. All of that is both wonderful and appropriate. However, if we want to know the Father we must know him by his Word. John 1:1 tells us that the Word and God are one.

We started by looking at Genesis 1:26. We found that God is a Father who wanted his children. He said, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness.” The hope of any real father is that his children will be an extension of his own life. That is why the Father God created. Although there are many wonderful things in this thought the one that is most important is that God wanted us. God wanted me. God wanted you. Every person is a wanted child.

John 3:16 is generally considered the most read and beloved scripture in the bible. What does this verse reveal about our Father? I was the youngest of seven children but by 15 years. The brother closest to me in age was 15 when I was born and the oldest was 25. My older brothers and sister gave my parents a terrible time growing up. By the time I came along my parents were very different people. Because I had the benefit of parents who had experience raising children, they did things very differently with me.

I was the “good kid” of the family. We were catholic so the idea of being born again was something they knew nothing about. When I came home and told them I got “saved” by mother asked, “From what?” I was not the one that needed saving in their mind. I was only 14 and had not done anything terrible but we all need to be saved from our nature if not our deeds. The point is that my parents thought they had a good child.

Think of how the Father could have felt about Jesus. The whole human race was rebellious. Look at how Paul describes them.

Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV) 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The picture of God’s family is pretty grim. It had gotten so bad in Genesis 6 that he had to send the flood to preserve the few that still believed in him. It was almost as bad in Paul’s day but God had sent a different kind of solution. He sent his only begotten son.

Let us digress a bit and allow God to think as we might think. By the time I grew up, I know that my parents would not have sacrificed me for my siblings. I was the child who made them proud. They were the ones that shamed and angered them. I would not say that my parents disowned my brothers and sister, but they expected nothing from them either. When they got older I was the one who took care of them. My wife nursed my mother when she came towards the end of life. None of my siblings were around.

I do not mean to judge them. They had their lives and there were probably many things I did not know. I simply point out that my parent’s perspective could have been God’s. He had a son who was perfect in every way. He was so much in the image and likeness of God that Paul calls him the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9.) Yet in this verse we see that God gave his perfect child to save all those who were imperfect. Many who did not want to know him. Most who rejected him. Still he gave his only perfect son for us.

What kind of Father is God? He is a Father who will never abandon his family. He did not abandon them when they were far off from him and he will not abandon us now. Look at this powerful verse in Romans 5.

Romans 5:6-9 (NKJV) 6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

As we consider our failures we need to remember that God will never abandon us. As we go through trials in life we need to be assured that he will never abandon us. Even when we sin he will not abandon us. We are not the target of wrath. He will not support our sin. He cannot protect us from all of the consequences of sin. However, he will not abandon us.

Just as the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15 was there waiting for his son to return, our Father is waiting for us to “come to our senses” and repent. As soon as we do, he is there with a robe of righteousness, a ring of authority and shoes for our feet. We often miss the significance of the shoes in this story. Servants might go without shoes but never the son of a house. The Father wanted this foolish boy to know without doubt that his father had not abandoned him. Neither will you Father God abandon you.

In the story, the father says to the older son, “Don’t you know that all I have is yours?” The older son could not understand the love of the father. We often cannot process how God could love us when we have been wrong. Nevertheless, he does. There is another lesson in what the father told the older son. When the younger son came home, he had nothing except the love of His father. His part of the inheritance was gone. The older brother could help him or not.

There are times when we walk away from the Father’s ways. We do things that bring problems into our lives. The wages of sin is death. The wage is not always physical death but it is always a door for spiritual death, the nature of Satan, to come into our lives. Some consequences cannot be undone by God. The prodigal son’s inheritance was gone. When we find our selves in that position we think that the Father has left us.

Sin separates us from God. I do not believe that the sins we commit in the normal flow of life send us to hell. I do believe that they create a blockage between us and God. However, God never forsakes us. He never abandons us. He does all he can to protect us and he calls us home. When we repent, he is right there.

Remember: Your Father gave the one perfect child he had just so he could get to you. He will not abandon you now that he has you.

The Father and His Family

Ephesians 3:14-15 (NKJV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

The story of the Old Testament is about a God and the nation he established. It is more than that but that is the main theme that comes through. The New Testament is the story of a Father and his family. If we do not understand that we cannot understand Christianity. In Ephesians 3, Paul points to this truth. He starts by praying to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” and continues by saying that the whole family of man, both alive and dead get their name from him. Paul wants us to know that we are God’s family and we get our identity from the Father.

God has many important characteristics that we study in theology. He is all knowing, all mighty, everywhere at the same time and unchanging. It is important to know these characteristics but as important as they are, none of them are the most important characteristic of God. The most important characteristic of God is that he is a Father. He lost access to his children in the Garden of Eden, but they remained his children. Everything has ever done has come from the father motivation. He sent Jesus because of the father motivation. Everything he does in your life is from the father motivation. If we do not understand that truth, we cannot understand God.

In the Old Testament, the division caused by sin kept man from seeing God as their Father. He was their God. Jesus changed all that with his life and ministry. He made the Father relationship available to all of us. Paul agrees. The whole human family gets its name and therefore identity from God.

I pray I have been a good father. My children tend to say I have been. However, I have been far from perfect. In the natural, there are many kinds of fathers. Perfect is not one of them. There are good fathers and bad fathers. There are indifferent fathers and absent fathers. There are attentive fathers and those who ignore their children. All of the possible types of natural fathers we may have had color our perception of God as a Father.

No natural father is perfect but God is a perfect Father. As I was preparing this message, I believe God said it to me this way. Whether we had good fathers, bad fathers or just fathers who were less than perfect we need to begin to judge fatherhood by our Father God not our Father God by our experience with natural fathers. As a pastor for 39 years, I can attest to the fact that it is easier to say that than to do it. Nevertheless, we must do it.

Let’s begin to look at what kind of Father the bible says God is. The beginning is a good place to start.

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” That is what being a father is all about. The word “Father is nowhere in this verse, but the idea of making a person in our image is why we become fathers. The process of making a person in our image is what makes us fathers.

All my children look like me and/or my wife. They are made in our image. They look like us. They are all musical to one degree or another. It is in their DNA. They all have ministry calls of some kind. They can all preach the Word and they all have an anointing to leadership. It is in their DNA. They are made in my image as well as my wife’s.

Human DNA did not evolve from something else. We got it from our Father. He made us in his image. Then he told us to “be fruitful and multiply.” The DNA we got from our Father has spread to the whole world. What does that mean? It means we are genetically programed to “look like our Father.” We have his nature, his power in us. We are a spirit being just like he is and we will live forever, just like our Father. God is an infinite being. We are finite beings. That difference limits how our Father’s DNA can be expressed through us. Nevertheless, it is there.

When man fell in the garden two things happened to the Father child relationship. First, man became estranged from his father. An evil step father took our true Father’s place (Ephesians 2:3.) Second, a flaw was injected into our DNA.

In the natural, hereditary diseases are a product of a flaw in natural DNA. Many scientists believe that aging itself is such a flaw. Every cell in the body regenerates every seven years. With each regeneration, there is a flaw that grows. That flaw is what causes us to age. In the spirit, the flaw in our DNA is sin (Romans 4:23.)

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Paul addresses both of these conditions.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

When we became new creatures, he cured the DNA flaw in our spirit. The cure will not manifest in our body until Jesus returns but it is done in the spirit when we are born again. He tells us that our message is one of reconciliation. Jesus made it possible for the Father and his family to be reconciled. We are no longer children of the devil in any way. We have been made right with God and restored to full sonship.

One more thing we need to know about the Father from Genesis 1:26 is that he wanted us. “Let us make man in our image.” The creation of man was not an accident. God wanted a family. God created on purpose. He did not just want two children. He only created two in the first creation so that they would know the joy of being partners in creation. He wanted them to know what he felt as a Father. Nevertheless, every child that has been born to Adam’s race has a special place in the heart of God.

God did not create you for the world. He created the world for you. He wanted you when you were conceived and he wants you now. John 1:12-13 tells us that we were not born again by the will of men but by the will of God. You may not think your earthly parents wanted you. You may think they do not believe you can be anything of value in life. You may be right. As important as their opinion is, it is the opinion of your Father God that is more important and he wanted you, he loves you, and he accepts you. He will not leave you as he finds you. He will change you for the better. He knows who you really were made to be. Even so, he will never love you more than he does now.

That is the kind of Father God is.