God is a Good Father Luke 11:5-13 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) With these short words the Bible introduces us to God. We learn that the God of the Bible is Creator – maker of heaven and earth, the giver of life and all that is good. 1) The Bible is an extended record how God has revealed Himself to us over time. a. Long after He made the earth, God appeared to a special man, later named Abraham, speaking promises that surely seemed incredible. But Abraham believed God, and went to a place he did not know far away. God promised to Abraham that he would found a great nation, and that he would receive a magnificent inheritance, with eternal life. But last of all he made the greatest promise – “I will be your God.” (Genesis 17:7) In making this promise, the Creator became the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He became the God of Jacob’s descendants, the nation of Israel. b. Some 400 years later, Abraham’s descendants hardly seemed to be God’s nation, for they were slaves in Egypt. But, God had not forgotten His people. The Lord appeared to another special man – Moses. God told Moses that he had a great mission to complete. Moses was to deliver God’s people from their bondage. Moses asked the question that he had to know to begin his task – “WHO ARE YOU?” “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) God revealed himself as “Yahweh” – a Hebrew name meaning “he who was, who is, and who will be.” To Moses and to the nation of Israel, God showed Himself to be a God of power and deliverance, leading the nation out of slavery in Egypt through mighty displays of power. c. Some 500 years later, the Lord appeared to Elijah, a man who would become a prophet without equal for centuries to come. Once Elijah became afraid and fled to the mountain of God, Mt. Horeb. There the Lord God summoned him to the mouth of a cave – • He revealed Himself in a mighty wind that broke the rocks. But, God was not in the wind. • Then He revealed Himself in a thundering earthquake – but God was not in the earthquake. • He revealed Himself in a raging fire – but God was not in the fire. • Last of all, God spoke in a still small voice. His revelation to Elijah pointed forward to a time when the Lord would be revealed in full. 6
d. Some 900 years later that voice did spring to life. The Son of God, a man named Jesus, was born in a village named Bethlehem. This Jesus came with a very special purpose – to reveal God in a way no one else had ever done – to reveal God as He really wants us to know Him. To reveal God as a Father, God needed a son. 2) A quick glance at a concordance reveals that the name “Father” is applied to God very infrequently in the Old Testament and never by a person referring to God as “my father.” It always refers to God as the Father of the nation of Israel. a. Jesus, however, called God “Father” more than 60 times. Why this enormous difference? Because, the revelation of God as our personal Father is based on the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. It’s not that God wasn’t a Father to His people in the Old Testament, but that’s not the primary way He revealed Himself. b. Revealing God as our heavenly Father was one of the most important missions in the life of Jesus. In the preface to his Gospel, John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:14) c. Jesus would say later, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Jesus was, in effect, turning on its head the popular phrase, “like father, like son”. In this case, no one had ever seen God. But, now they saw His son, and in seeing Jesus, they could see all the magnificent character of the Father. 3) In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus once and for all dispelled the fear that men had felt when approaching God. He said to pray like this – “Father, hallowed be your name.” (Luke 11:2b) a. God is the Father of the Son. But wonderfully, incredibly, He can be our Father too. Indeed, the mission of Jesus was not only to reveal God as Father. It was also to show us, you and me, how to become His children. The only people who can call God Father are those who are the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:26 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” (Galatians 3:26) b. I know it is popular today to say, “We’re all God’s children” with a kind of glibness that blurs the distinctions between those who know Jesus Christ and those who don’t. The Lord’s Prayer is not a general prayer intended for the masses, but is instead a prayer for the true disciples of Christ, those who have been converted by the saving grace of God.
c. God is willing to make us part of His special family, but that does not happen automatically. We must enter His family in the special way He has prescribed. That way is summed up in these words:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13) d. Jesus came to convey a message to all of us; namely, that the Almighty God of the universe, the One who created our world out of nothing, the One who created the mountains and the oceans and the deserts and flung billions of stars out into the universe, is our heavenly Father. 4) Your view of God is the most important thing about you. Everything else flows from that perspective. Let me illustrate this truth with a story from real life: a. Fred Craddock was a professor of preaching at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta for many years. He told the story of being in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, eating with his wife at the Black Bear Inn. During their meal an old fellow in overalls came over to their table, pulled up a chair, and started talking with them. The stranger asked, “What’s your name?” Annoyed at having his meal disturbed, he replied, “Fred Craddock.” “What do you do?” the old man asked. Fred thought he would politely run him off by saying, “I’m a homiletics professor at a theological seminary.” But instead, the old man said, “So you’re a preacher? My name is Ben, and I’ve got a preacher’s story.” And he told his story. “I used to be called Ben, the bastard boy. I didn’t know who my dad was. My mother wouldn’t tell me. I was so ashamed. Then a new preacher came to town, and I went to his services. I’d go late and leave early so I wouldn’t have to be around the other people. I was so ashamed of who I was. One day the preacher was so good that I stayed late and couldn’t get out before the rest of the people did. All of a sudden there was a hand on my shoulder and when I turn around there was the preacher.” He looked me right in the eye and asked, “Who’s your father?” “It felt like a knife went into my guts.” He asked again, “Who’s your father, boy?” “I couldn’t speak.” Then the preacher said, “I know who your father is. Your father is God. God is your father.” And he walked away. “My life changed from that moment on,” said Ben. “I knew God was my father, and I was someone special.” The old man got up from the table and left. Then the waitress came over and asked Fred, “Do you know who that was?” “Some old fellow named Ben,” replied Craddock. The waitress said, “That was Ben Hooper, the former governor of Tennessee.”
b. It is only when we truly learn who God is that we find ourselves. Jesus came to tell us that we are loved no matter how far we’ve wandered from home. He painted a picture of God as our Heavenly Father who waits and watches for us. God is the Father who suffered every day of our absence from His home. God is the Father who welcomes us with his whole heart. However derelict or faithless we may have been, we have never set foot beyond the boundaries of God’s love. That is the truth. 5) But for many of us, it just seems too good to be true. a. If God, to you, is a harsh taskmaster who commands you to make bricks without straw, then that perspective will color all of your life and all of your relationships. The more accurately we understand the character of our heavenly Father, the better our relationship with Him will be, and the better our prayer life will be. b. Here are some questions that may shed light on our understanding of the character of God: • Do you feel adored by God? • Do you feel that He takes pleasure in you? • Do you believe He has good plans for your life? • Or, do you see God as giving you castor oil and bouillon soup. • Do you think of Him as holding a stick over your head to come down on you when you mess up? c. When you call God “Father,” you are saying there is one in heaven who hears and knows and understands and cares. Whatever a good father on earth would do for his children, that’s what a good Father in heaven will do for his children. 6) There are three primary roles of God as our Father. a. First, He is the Source of all things. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him.” (I Corinthians 8:6) All things, including all of us, come from God the Father. Our heavenly father created us, loves us, and is glad we are here. An understanding of this can motivate us to come to our heavenly Father in prayer because we know we are loved and accepted. My children don’t need an appointment to see me, and I don’t need an appointment to see my Heavenly Father. Even in the midst of running the entire universe, keeping the stars in their courses, and making sure the planets don’t run into each other, and while he oversees six billion people with all their troubles, cares, worries, fears, problems, and difficulties, our God still has time for us. He listens to us as if He had no one else to listen to. You don’t have a need in your life that He can’t meet because He’s a father in heaven who hears and answers prayer. b. Second, He is our Protector. He actively keeps us from harm. The Psalmist said,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) The Hebrew idea of a refuge is a shelter, a stronghold, a fortress, a place of safety. Like being outside when a thunderstorm hits and running into your home for safety. God is our safe house around us that protects us. c. Third, Jesus tells us that God is our Provider, and He compared earthly fathers with the lavish goodness and generosity of our heavenly Father. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?. . .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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11, 13) This is the Father’s love for us. He provides what we really need. 7) The word Father speaks of parental authority. • He is God and you are not. • He is running the show and you are not. • He is a father; you are His child. a. We must not use the fact of God’s love as an excuse to reject His right to rule over us. Because He is our Father “in heaven,” He has the right to do as He pleases even if His ways do not always make sense to us. • We should affirm our confidence in His goodness toward us at all times. • He is always near us whether we see Him or feel Him or even whether we believe He is there or not. b. Everything God has for us and that He is for us is wrapped in the word “Father.” When we come to Him in Jesus’ name, we are not coming to an angry God, but to a friendly father. So don’t be afraid to talk to God. Your Father is waiting to hear from you.