My God, My Father

I grew up with a mental image of God as a somewhat stern, authoritarian father, looking down from heaven just waiting for me to mess up so He could zap me.

Some people think of God as a kindly and indulgent father, one who never says no, never scolds, slips them money, and always bails them out of trouble.

Some people view God’s fatherhood as that of a dear old man, well-meaning but hopelessly out of touch.

Some feel God is like a father who is capricious and impossible to please.

Others feel that God is a distant Father, either absent or uninvolved and uncaring.

But our Father God is not like any of those.

Our earthly fathers help inform our view of God for better or worse. A faulty father might imprint on our minds a skewed perception of God. A good father will give a positive but still shadowy picture of our heavenly Father.

But it’s good to learn of our Father for who He is.

He loved us enough, even when we were His enemies and totally uncaring about Him, to rescue us from our rebellion and darkness.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:12-14).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1a).

He makes us heirs with Christ:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15-17).

He keeps us secure.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30).

He wants us to come to Him with our needs.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven . . . ” (Matthew 6:8-9).

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:6).

He provides for us.

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31).

He has compassion on us:

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13.

He cares enough for us to discipline us when we need it.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3: 11-12).

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:7-11).

He reassures us:

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

He shapes us, surrounding us with care and concern and interest like a potter bending over his creation:

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:6).

He gives good gifts and doesn’t change moods or character:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).

He comforts us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

He leads and guides us:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

He blesses us:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

He’s preparing a place for us to live with Him eternally.

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2).

There was a popular song years ago that said God is watching us from a distance. But no. He is close and personal, caring and concerned.

Is He your father? “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found this week.

The Weight and Wound of the Word, HT to Challies. “Some—perhaps much—of the Bible was given not for our comfort but for our discomfort. The Scriptures are profitable for reproof and correction, after all; they provoke, unsettle, and rebuke us. Far from harsh, this is a sign of God’s love. It is damaging for our souls—indeed, for our humanity—to turn against God in rebellion. The fact that he steers us away from sin and back to himself is evidence of his care.”

Three Unthievable Treasures. “Almost anything we treasure—from people to possessions to abilities—can vanish in an instant. However, Scripture teaches us about a few precious treasures that no thief, con man, devil, or despot can ever take away.”

If Just One Person Returned. “Instead of having us base our confidence on the word of friends or family members, he has us base our confidence on his infallible words. And why would we believe the word of a man if we will not believe the word of God himself? Why would we long to base our confidence on a created being if we will not believe the one who created us?”

The Best Choice: Bringing Christ into Our Decision Making, HT to the Story Warren. “I don’t remember much about registering for baby gear, but I remember crying. What was intended to be an exciting afternoon with my husband turned into a near panic attack. As if carrying a child with an eternal soul in my womb was not weighty enough, I was assaulted with hundreds of secondary and tertiary questions. Disposable or cloth diapers? If disposable, which brand? Pacifier or no pacifier? If yes, which brand? Three hours later, we walked out of a giant superstore far less confident and far more overwhelmed as soon-to-be parents.”

Why I Quit Praying for God to “Use Me,” HT to Challies. “Deep down, for the majority of my Christian life, I have lived, prayed, and ‘served’ because I related to God as my employer, not my ‘Abba Father’ (Gal. 4.6; Rom. 8.15). With God as my divine employer, I could count and quantify my work for him and be the judge of whether I was ‘useful’ or not. Having God as my employer, love, intimacy, acceptance, and belonging were not the name of the game. No. Productivity and getting things done are what was important. Meditation, confession, and repentance were replaced with planning and strategizing.”

A Key Sign You Are Maturing as a Preacher, HT to Challies. I’m not a preacher, but I see a parallel with writing. I used to think I couldn’t write on a given concept in Scripture without studying all the verses about it, and then I felt I had to include all the verses. But people don’t usually read lists of verses. And the more verses or points that are included, the harder it is to process. One’s head starts swimming instead of focusing or discerning a main point. So, substituting writing for preaching, this is a good reminder for me : “God calls us to preach the word, to be sure. But he calls us to preach to people. Real, living people. People with a distinctive set of issues, needs, and problems.”

7 Traits of False Teachers, HT to Challies. “In the same way Peter says, ‘There will be false teachers among you.’ Notice the words “among you.’ Peter is writing to the church and says, ‘There will be false prophets among you.‘ So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.”

These kinds of videos always get me a little misty. A baby gts glasses and sees his mom clearly for the first time. Love how he’s looking all over, taking things in, then he sees her eyes.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I’m a little behind on my blog-reading, but here’s a collection of good reads from this week. Some are just in time for Father’s Day.

My 10 Favorite Attributes of God as Father. “Regardless of our earthly-father experience, God as Father, rises above any father definitions we write into our stories. He is Abba Father.”

I Am My Father’s Son (Hope for Failing Dads on Father’s Day). “I know he is anxious about this conversation. I know he is fearful of his accountability of the past. He is well aware of his sins and his demons and his neglect of those he should have loved.”

Honoring Your Father When He’s Evil, HT to Challies. “In our family, I was taught to honor my father and mother, forgive others, and not gossip, but homes warped by abuse have their own language. ‘Forgive’ meant pretend you’re happy, even when you’re covered in bruises. ‘Honor your father’ meant obey him, even when you’re terrified he might kill you. And we were repeatedly warned not to ‘gossip,’ which meant telling anyone the truth.”

A Good Friday Ride, HT to Challies. “It occurred to me to marvel that we’d meet a Muslim man on Good Friday and have him evangelize to us rather than the other way around. And it also occurred to me to pray—even if just for an instant—for this fellow image-bearer of God who would so excitedly and passionately share his faith with us.”

The Good Commission, HT to Challies. “I would trade every kid who takes a mission trip to change the world for one who would stay home and clean his room, treat his brother like a human being and help mom around the house without being asked twice. Changing the world is easy, the latter is harder and far more Christlike.”

Fighting Atrophy, HT to Challies. “Just like our muscles atrophy and weaken through lack of use so our spiritual muscles atrophy though lack of use. The question as things reopen is will we put the work in to develop and grow those muscles that have atrophied in recent months?”

Dealing with Criticism: 7 Truths to Remember, HT to Lisa. “No one likes criticism, but it’s an inevitable and valuable part of life. Here are some truths to deal with criticism next time you’re so fortunate to receive it.”

Happy Saturday, and I hope you have a great Father’s Day tomorrow.