This is Fathers’ Day, so we wish all fathers a happy day, and all men, too!
We all have or had fathers, though not all of us had dads.
- called us into His family, and
- He wants to reveal Himself to us as Father, and
- He wants us to be His children.
- And to act like His children, too.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus revealed to us God as Father, and He Himself as Son.
He invited people into this relationship.
The invitation came early in his ministry, and was truly fulfilled in his death and resurrection.
But let’s look at how Jesus revealed the Fatherhood of God in his early ministry…let’s look at it in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount encompasses three chapters of Matthew (5-7) and it is full of teaching about being in God the Father’s home.
I would like to read one passage from the Sermon, and try to refer to other passages, today, as well.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- Our Father Helps Us Do the Impossible
When our earthly fathers asked us to do something that we didn’t want to do, our response sometimes was frustration and even anger.
“Come pull weeds with me in the garden.”
“Clean up your room.”
“Do your homework.”
If your father has to tell you to do your homework, you probably don’t want to do it, and no one wants to pull weeds in a garden.
And who wants to clean up their room?
Jesus teaches us that we are to act better than pagans.
We are to love our enemies and even pray for them.
But, many of us would rather ignore our enemies or, even, hate them.
Some people say,
“I neither love them nor hate them, I am apathetic.”
But even being apathetic is to Conform to the image of this world.
We, and our enemies, were created in the image of God our Father, and God wants us ALL to belong to HIM.
When God gave His law to Israel, it was to distinguish them from the other nations…
when Jesus gave his teaching to Israel it was to distinguish them from the world…even from the rest of Israel.
Jesus’ teaching invited us into HIS Father’s family.
When our dad’s told us to clean our rooms, it was because we could and we should.
Because, just as our father can clean his room, so we can clean ours.
Was it easy?
Not at first, but we could learn.
[Some of us never learned, though :)]
When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, it is because we can, just as our Heavenly Father does.
Is it easy?
No, but with our Father’s help, we can do this, we can be “perfect” as the Scripture says, we can fulfill this impossible task through our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
In fact, it is miraculous that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.
Our Father helps us do the impossible, because He is All Powerful! Omnipotent!
- Our Father Helps Us to See Through His Eyes.
In chapter 6 of Matthew we learn from Jesus that Our Father sees what we do in secret, thus we do not need to boast about our good deeds.
As well, Jesus teaches us to pray without making a show of it, and know that God sees our needs before we pray.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Leading public prayer in a religious meeting is not being forbidden by Jesus, for he, too, led prayers, publicly, as did the apostles.
But Jesus is teaching us to trust our Father.
Don’t be satisfied because people hear our prayers and think highly of us for how we pray, but INSTEAD pray believing that God hears us.
When I first became a pastor in 1990, there were some elderly ladies living next to us with whom we would visit.
They loved to say, “you pray the sweetest prayers.”
And while that may have felt good, those feelings are not the purpose of the prayer, but the purpose of prayer is to communicate with our heavenly father.
We may not hear Him say anything like those elderly ladies responded, but we will see Him answer prayers.
I would rather have answers to prayer than fans of my prayer.
God knows what we need before we ask.
And, yet, He asks us to pray.
Thus, when we enter into a relationship with God and pray, then we actually begin to see the world through His eyes.
We bring the needs of the world to Him, and of course He sees them, too, but as we pray, we know He hears us and answers us.
And we begin to see the world differently.
Thus, we can do the impossible.
Thus, we can see with the eyes of God.
Satan tempted Eve that the fruit would make her like God…but Satan lied, and we found ourselves to be easily blinded.
And Jesus taught us that if we will follow God our eyes will be open to seeing as He sees.
We can forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and we are able to ask for forgiveness as we have also been forgiven.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
For if we forgive, then we will be forgiven, but if we don’t forgive, then we won’t be forgiven, either.
This is not a “good work” that saves us, but it is a “good work” that happens because we are saved.
“I can’t forgive, unless God would just zap me with the ability to do so.”
But Jesus teaches us this, thus, it is not something that we would always be able to do immediately.
There is a process, as our old nature dies to sin, and our new nature is unleashed.
As our faith in Jesus continues to grow and change us more and more into the image of Jesus.
Then we will be able to see our enemies with the eyes of Our Heavenly Father, and be able to say, with Jesus,
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
And God the Father forgave them, and I believe that when we look at people with the forgiving eyes of our Heavenly Father, then we can forgive, too.
And then it is obvious that we are children of God, when we can forgive.
Addendum: What Should God’s Children Do When Offended?
We might think that the first thing we must do is “go” to the person, but we should, actually, pray, first.
Because when we pray, we can then see them through our Father’s eyes, and come with a forgiving spirit.
Should we share the offense with others?
That turns someone else against the offenders.
Let’s do the following with offense:
- Pray for the offender (bless them)
- Go to the offender and share with them what they did
- If nothing is resolved, then take someone with you (Sometimes the offender sees what is happening, and will change, or will run away, but sometimes the relationship is restored).
Our Father helps us to do the impossible
Our Father helps us to see through His eyes
- The Father Helps Us to See the Future
As we continue through the Sermon on the Mount, we see that the Father feeds birds and clothes the wildflowers, and will take care of us, as well.
So, we can trust our Heavenly Father to take care of us.
Jesus tells us not to worry, but instead to
…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If we seek first…
FIRST thing in the morning.
If we seek first…
FIRST above all else.
If we prioritize our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom, and His Righteousness, then we will be able to forgive.
We will be able to pray.
We will have all that we need.
Our Heavenly Father helps us see the future.
The future Kingdom of Heaven that we will live in is something that we live in, already, in that we live under His law, Will and power.
At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, we see something about the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father:
- His Name is Always Hallowed in Heaven
- His Kingdom is coming
- His Will is always at work in His Kingdom
At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, we see that Jesus describes aspects of our future in our Heavenly Father’s Realm.
A.We Can Belong to the Kingdom
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3, 10
B. We Find Fulfillment in the Kingdom
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
C. We Join with God’s Family
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:8, 9
On this Fathers’ Day, I want to renew my covenant with my Father in Heaven.
The Sermon on the Mount gives me a prayer that will help me in this.
Let’s stand and pray this, together.
Our Father in heaven,
Praise to Your Name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from the evil one
For Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power and the glory forever.
The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus invites us to belong to the Father. Let’s do that, through faith in Jesus, and let us act like we do.