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Chapter 3: Who is this Heavenly Father

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “father” as: 1 a. A male whose sperm unites with an egg, producing an embryo. b. A male whose impregnation of a female results in the birth of a child. c. A man who adopts a child. d. A man who raises a child. 2 A male parent of an animal. 3 A male ancestor: He has died and now sleeps with his fathers. 4 a. A man who creates, originates, or founds something: Chaucer is considered the father of English poetry. b. A man who serves or is thought of as a protector: beloved as the father of the nation. 5 Father: Christianity. a. God. b. The first person of the Christian Trinity.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “father” as: 1 a : a man who has begotten a child; also : sire. b capitalized (1) : god 1 (2) : the first person of the Trinity. 2 forefather. 3 a : one related to another in a way suggesting that of father to child. b : an old man —used as a respectful form of address.  4 often capitalized : a pre-Scholastic Christian writer accepted by the church as an authoritative witness to its teaching and practice —called also church father. 5 a : one that originates or institutes (the father of modern science). b : source (the sun, the father of warmth and light — Lena M. Whitney). c : prototype. 6 a priest of the regular clergy; broadly : priest —used especially as a title. 7 one of the leading men (as of a city) —usually used in plural. (- fa·ther·hood noun; - fa·ther·less adjective; - fa·ther·like adjective or adverb).

The worldly definitions of the word “father” are broad and cover a large meaning of the word. The “Father” I will be discussing is our Heavenly Father. Who is this Heavenly Father who loves me so much? It is written He sacrificed His one and only Son so the ability to enter the gates of Heaven could be mine. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).  God calls us His children for a reason; He has taken on the role of a loving father and not of dictator. He is the source of our creation and He takes authority over His creation. We serve a God who cares for our fundamental needs. He is a loving Father who is ready to provide healing, hope, joy, peace, and love to His children. God intends to meet need you may have no matter how large or how small they may be. Those things that are of importance to you are important to Him. How does God meet the qualifications of a Father?  The Scriptures state, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 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” (Matt. 7:9-11)? This statement is profound, as God speaks of not only meeting the needs of His children but having a desire to give them their wants. God wants to give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 20:4-5).

The word “Father” is not a term given to God by a preacher or evangelist, God used this word to characterize his position in familial system. The Kingdom of God, though it has a government within its ranks, is considered to be a family system. God made our position clear, we are His children and He is our Father. “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isa. 64:8). He is the potter and we are the clay. It is by His hands we have been formed in our mother’s womb and by Jesus’ loving work on the cross we were granted salvation. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, He will chip away at all of our imperfections, correcting us a little at a time.  Jesus characterizes God as our Father as He teaches us how to pray, “Our Father in Heaven” as it is written in the Lord’s Prayer. Out of all the human metaphors He could have used to describe his relationship to us, He chose Father (not dictator or ruler). There is something important God wants us to understand by describing Himself as our Father. The message is the same as the message found in the entire Bible, it is love. He wants us to know that the relationship we have with him is a loving relationship. As a father myself, there is no end to the love I have for my own children. It is easy for me to know what God is talking about when He calls Himself Father. He sets up an atmosphere of openness and intimacy, ready for us to enter into. If you are a parent it should be easy to understand this type of relationship as it is the same type of relationship we experience with our own children. If you are a child, they you should be able to identify this type of relationship as this is the type of relationship you experience with your parents.

I am not so naïve that I believe as Christians we have the best relationship with our children, or as Christians we have the best relationship with our parents. We are humans and this makes us imperfect people, we make mistakes. Especially in relationships. I know more times than not, we realize we fall short in these areas. God does not. God designed these earthly relationships so we would be able to identify His role in our own lives. God has an awesome way of teaching us things in a manner that allows us to walk things out, not just read about them. As parents we sometimes follow this example with our children. This allows them to experience certain situations in order for them to learn a life lesson. They not only learn a lesson and gain strength through it. They will have the experience to help someone else who enters into a similar situation. Though this is not always an easy thing to do, the outcome is always rewarding. I find myself wanting to rush right over to my children and save the day, but if I did that every time – they would never learn to live. I believe God created Fathers with the intention of teaching us who He is in our own lives.

In the Old Testament the prophets refer to God as our Father, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name” (Isa. 63:16). God has been the Father to his people from the beginning of time. He established the role of the father from the very beginning as he created the family unit. He established this family unit with Adam and Eve in the Garden. (Gen. 2: 24-25). The words protector, leader, provider, and priest of the family all describe the world father. Jesus referrers to God as His and our Father several times in the New Testament, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 6:26). Jesus states, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). The apostles refer to God as Father in the New Testament as Paul writes, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:2).

In the New Testament God describes Himself as “Father” over two hundred and fifty times, this should be significant in itself. It is important how we choose to relate to God or what name we use to refer to Him, this will determine the relationship we have with Him. Is he to be our all-powerful God who is the ruler of Heaven and Earth, which He is, or is he first our “Daddy” who is there to love and nurture us. In both cases He remains our all-powerful King of Kings. It is important that we do not we reduced Him to one who we present a grocery list of wants and needs through our daily prayers. He must be the Father who we trust to meet our needs because He loves us as a Father loves his children?  God is wise, loving, caring, and a kind Father who keeps His promises. We should entrust Him with everything we do and with everything we are. He is the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He is our Father who desires to spend intimate time with us and who we obey because he places our needs as priority.

There are people who have a problem identifying God as their Heavenly Father due to the experience they have had in life with their earthly fathers. Many grew up with fathers that have missed the mark and have not lived up to their title. These people lived with fathers who were cold and distance and in many cases were neglected or abused. These people grew up with fathers who were quick to get angry, took their frustrations out on them, were critical, and controlling. Many fathers were drug users or alcoholics. Some fathers were violent to them and to their mothers and siblings.  This is a disease that is passed down from their father and they seem to pass it down to their children. They were abused themselves and they do not know a life that is any different. These people have a difficult time calling God their Father because that title belongs to someone in their lives who have failed them and cannot be trusted. This makes it hard for them to trust God as their father because they have never had a father they can trust. They have grown up with fathers who did not have time for them and were selfish lost in their own problems and not caring about the things their children cared about. This became evidence of a lack of love for their children.

The problem is that even the best father misses the mark, no matter how much we try we can never love or care for our children the way our Heavenly Father loves us. Even with our best intentions we fail to be the type of father God intends us to be. As humans we are selfish and lead sinful lives and we fail to love our children as we should. I cannot count the amount of times I witnessed these types of situations in my career as a law enforcement officer. Many times I found myself arresting the father of a family for abuse, when it was the father who should have been the one protecting the family. This leads to a broken family and a broken concept of fatherhood. Though it is hard for us to admit, we are not perfect and even the best of us fail to complete the picture God has painted of what a father should be. What kind of Father is our God?  He is, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious live a sun-scorched land” (Psalms 68:5-6).

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There is a great deal more to this chapter, so please check us out next week as I continue to post portions of my new book, "A Father's Love" before it is released (December 2013). Please feel free to leave any suggestions or comments.

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