Our Affectionate Heavenly Dad

Fathers Day  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:37
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It’s Fathers Day today which gives me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics, God is our Father.
God as Father is, on the surface, a straightforward topic. Everyone knows what a father is and the Bible says God is our Father enough places that we all accept it as true.
But what does it mean? What does it mean that God is my Father, your Father? After all, we all have earthly fathers, so does God is our Father mean something different from having an earthly father? It must.
The fatherhood of God wasn’t emphasized in the Old Testament. That changed with Jesus. He calls God Father over 165 times. Not only that, He calls God Father with an affectionate term, Abba. Just before Jesus was arrested He prayed,
Mark 14:36 NIV
36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Abba is the equivalent to a nickname, daddy. Did you have a personal name like that when you were young? Most of us did. Perhaps it was daddy or poppa or poppie? When we get older we don’t use the kid version but we still use part of it, dad or pop.
How comfortable are you with calling God dad or pop? How often do you say dad when you talk to God? Probably not often. You might say, “That isn’t respectful enough for God.” That isn’t a good answer. Can we be respectful and still personal? Of course we can.
So, we have a problem. We don’t have an affectionate relationship with God the Father. Let’s establish this is something God wants. He tells us He wants this in Romans 8.
Romans 8:14–16 NIV
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The Spirit of God is in your heart shouting “Abba, Father.” The word “cry” in Greek is κράζω and means “to shout or cry out, with the possible implication of the unpleasant nature of the sound—‘to shout, to scream.’” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1, p. 398
The Spirit of God is in our heart telling us to cry out to our heavenly Dad. Don’t whisper, don’t talk, shout! The context of Romans 8 is our struggle with the flesh.
God wants us to know Him as our affectionate heavenly Dad. But there are somethings that get in the way.
There are some obstacles that all of us have to overcome for this to be true. We see the first in Matthew 7.
Matthew 7:9–11 NIV
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
There is a big difference, a huge difference between the Father’s love for us and our earthy fathers.
The first obstacle is we don’t understand

1. Even the best fathers are evil compared to God as Father! Matthew 7:9-11

Our perspective on God as Father is influenced by our view of our earthly Fathers. If you grew up in a healthy home, you likely have a healthy view of God as father. If you grew up in a confused home, it is likely you have a confused view of God as father. If you grew up in an unhealthy home, you have an unhealthy view of God as Father.
Jesus said that all fathers are evil compared to God as Father! Please don’t be offended by this if you had a good dad. I’ll tell you right now your dad won’t disagree with the statement. God is perfect in all His ways and in today’s discussion that means He’s a perfect Father in every way.
This point here is not to condemn fathers. The point is to point out the contrast that Jesus is making between our earthy father’s and God the Father.
Let’s look at how the Scriptures describe the Father’s affection for us. To see this we have to see what God is like.
When God called His people out of Egypt, He choose Moses to lead them. It was a tough job. The people continually rebelled against God and wore Moses down. He needed an emotional boost to keep going so He asked God something that would help. He had neve seen God and so He asked Him if He could see him.
God grants His request, but not in the way we would have expected. Remember, God doesn’t have a body, so would could He show Moses? We discover this in Exodus 33:19.
Exodus 33:19 NIV
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
God showed Moses what really matters to Him. He didn’t talk about his glory in creation or His power in the ten plagues or in parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptian army. He spoke of His character as the thing that reflected how great and praiseworthy, He is. He spoke of His grace and mercy.
Years later, David expands upon what God said to Moses. In Psalm 103 David praises God for the benefits he has received from Him. Then in verses eight and nine he says,
Psalm 103:6–9 NIV
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
The second obstacle is that we don’t accept

2. The Father wants us to understand and experience the fullness of his affection for us! Psalm 103:8-9, Psalm 103:8-9

Not a word is said in these verses about us, about our goodness or righteousness because God’s affection isn’t dependent upon us or our actions. These verses highlight God’s character. Missing from this discussion is any issue of what religious people consider important. We expect a discussion here of morality, who we are and what we have done. But it isn’t here. What we have is a discussion of God’s bountiful grace.
How does God relate to us? What motivates His heart? Compassion, graciousness and affection! This psalm is about what people desperately need, grace!
How do you measure grace? I love measuring things; I am a numbers person. I like tape measures, meters, and scales, for counting and measuring things. In the next few verses, the psalmist is going to give us a way to measure God’s gracious affection. He doesn’t use any typical ways to measure.
Let’s consider

3. The dimensions of the His affection Psalm 103:10-13

Psalm 103:10 NIV
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

a. Not according to our sins or iniquities

Is it possible that the extent of the Father’s affection will be influenced by our sins? Certainly, God will love me more if I am not as bad as immoral people! I sin a little bit, but not much, so God will have more affection for me, right? Nope, not right. God doesn’t have a check list of your sins and failings that He checks every time you come to Him. NOT at all.
Psalm 103:11 NIV
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

b. According to the height of the heavens

Psalm 103:11 NIV
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
Tonight, after the sun goes down, go outside and look up. Imagine looking through the most powerful telescope in the world and look as high as you can. Okay, you’re beginning to get it. But we aren’t done.
Psalm 103:12 NIV
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

c. According to the distance between east and west

Now instead of looking up, turn that telescope and look as far as you can to the east. Mark that point in your mind. Now, turn the telescope to the west, to the farthest point. It is so far away we can’t imagine it but try. Okay, now imagine that God has put you at the point on the east. Then he takes your sins, your guilt, your shame, every evil thought, attitude and the punishment for everything you have ever done and takes if off of you and puts it at that point at the west, as far away from you as you can imagine and then farther.
Why? Why does he do that? Because He loves you but wait! He isn’t done!
Psalm 103:13 NIV
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

d. According to the compassion of a father

What is the ultimate way we can measure God’s love? By the compassion and affection of a perfect, devoted Father. The word fear means respect, not fear in the sense of terror.
This verse is in a sense the heart of the issue. It is so different from what we think we want, but it is what we really need.
Every child growing up would tell you that spending time with Dad, having an accepting personal relationship with Dad is far more important than anything else our dad’s might give us. We all like stuff, but we all want time, care, love, understanding and affection. This is why I can tell you that in my life growing up there were two times when my dad and I did something alone, together. Two times! Why is that etched in my mind? Because I wanted more, to know my dad, to learn from my dad, to have my dad share my life with me, so I could share my heart with him.
For many people growing up their dads gave them stuff, a home, food, clothes, and even gifts, but not affection or compassion. We wanted the relationship but got the stuff.
Now think about this, for some reason, even though we know this, we have reversed things with God the Father. When we think about Him we want stuff! We want health, a job, security, a husband or wife or kids. We want to buy a house or sell our house or get the refinancing approved. We want our kids to get off drugs, for the court case to go well. We want to be happy.
Hear me clearly, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am about to say. There is nothing wrong with asking for any of that. Keep asking morning noon and night. Cast all your cares upon Him! But please understand that is all stuff. That is like the new dress or bike your dad bought you. It’s like the money he gave you for being good. Yeah, you liked it, but it was stuff.
God has something else for you that He wants you to know and that He cares for you, He is passionately affectionate toward you. Knowing this is far more valuable than anything He will ever give us or do for us.
When I finally grasped how accepting God is of me, how much He likes me, and that He is kind to me, something wonderful happened in my heart. I then realize that I could face my fears, I could live with them. God’s compassion made up for everything that I lacked.
God the Father became the father I never had.
Some of you are still not convinced. So, there are two other aspects of this I want to share with you.
Psalm 103:14–18 NIV
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
First, for those of you who think you are too evil, too wicked, to be the object of God’s compassion,

4. The Father’s affection encompasses His knowledge of us. Psalm 103:14-18

God the Father knows us and still loves us. It extends through all of our lives even as He knows every aspect of our lives. He knows how we are formed. We read about this in Psalm 139.
Psalm 139:13–14 NIV
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

a. From conception Psalm 139:13-14

And even before then. Jeremiah says,
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

b. From before time – Jeremiah 1:5

Psalm 68:5–6 NIV
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

c. He watches over us. Psalm 68:5-6

He watches over us. He cares about those without fathers, those who are widows, those who are lonely, even prisoners, regardless of why they are prisoners!
Let us consider some statements of our Father’s compassion in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son.
Luke 15:7 NIV
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:10 NIV
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:32 NIV
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
The third obstacle is we don’t grasp the

5. The Father’s affection results in heavenly joy when our relationship with Him is established Luke 15:7, 10, 32

The impact of the Father’s affection is joy! Until we grasp this, we don’t grasp His affection. It is joy toward us and joy that overflows to all around the Father.
It results in heavenly joy when our relationship with Him is reestablished. His affection for us is reflected in the way heaven rejoices. His affection is contagious. It is necessary for there to be rejoicing in heaven when relationships with God are reestablished!
Discussion Questions:
1. Some would say it is not respectful to think of God the Father as a Dad or Daddy. What is the main reason why this isn't true? see Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6
2. Is it easy or hard for you to think of the Father as a "Dad"? Why?
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