Father’s Day 2018

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Father’s Day 2018

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 2nd September 2018

I must admit, it’s a little strange to be bringing a word on Father’s Day…  when last Sunday morning I had a father, and this Sunday morning, I don’t.

The truth is, I do still have a father – he’s just in another place – a much better place.  Just like young Sammy, our grandson said,  “He’s a new Poppy Cracker in heaven.”  That’s what all his great grandkids called him, “Poppy Cracker.”

I have come through this last week with a real peace in my heart – and a gratitude for God’s love and care.  His love has come through all of you – and through the way others have cared for Dad prior to his passing.  The way things fell into place with his funeral, and the time we had here on Thursday, and out at the graveside truly had God’s blessing upon it.  Thankyou to everyone who cooked, served, cleaned, prayed…  and simply loved us through those few days.  

My focus this morning isn’t so much on our earthly fathers.  It’s more about trying to understand and comprehend who each of us are meant to be as ones who carry the Father heart of God.  If we could just get that right, this world would be transformed.

I’m particularly talking to the men…  but you women also of course carry the attributes and nature of your heavenly Father.  In some ways, you might express that in a unique way from us men – but the heart of the Father is the same for all of us.

We’re going to come back in a minute to the fact that Jesus said:

John 14:7 (NKJV),  “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

John 14:11 (NKJV),  “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me,  or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”

So we can know the Father’s heart through Jesus Christ His Son.  The two are One!

But before we go there, I want to go back to the one man we know for sure had God’s heart, and that was David.

Acts 13:22 (NKJV),  “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

I don’t know about you, but that particular verse gives me a lot of hope!  If a man who was capable of blatant and disastrous sin, could somehow be described as a man after God’s own heart, then there’s no reason why any of us couldn’t also leave that same legacy – that our heart was God’s heart.

Before we get on to Jesus, let me give you a few reasons why it’s possible that Luke speaks of David with such confidence.

The first one is pretty obvious because it follows straight on in that verse:  “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

No. 1 – to have the Father’s heart is to be so at one with God that you simply desire to do what He wants.  Obedience comes from knowing Him – knowing His heart for us…  When God tells us to do something, it’s for our own good.  David knew in his heart that God loved him.  He knew that nothing would work out as good as his Heavenly Father’s plans for his life.

Many have come to think of obedience as a duty and a chore.  Have you noticed? People don’t like other people telling them what to do.  But with God obedience is a joy!  Obedience to God can not only turn your life into a massive blessing, it can actually be life saving!  

No. 2 – David had learnt through his past experiences that he could trust God with his life.  Obedience has to come from a place of trust.  As a young shepherd boy, caring for sheep in the wilderness, he grew in his faith in God’s protection and provision as he fought off wild animals.  He became a fierce warrior as he fought off bears and lions and other wild animals that tried to harm his sheep.

When he went up against the giant Philistine, Goliath, he said:

1 Samuel 17:37 (NKJV),  “…“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine…”

Trust and obedience are two qualities that flow from the heart of God; two qualities that we as men must have in place if our lives are to be truly anchored in God.

No. 3 – If you are a man after God’s own heart, you will love and live by His Word.  

David says:

Psalm 119:47-48 (NKJV),  “And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Psalm 119:47-48 (Passion),  “My passion and delight is in your word, for I love what you say to me! I long for more revelation of your truth, for I love the light of your word as I meditate on your decrees.”

Men, we need to be grounded in the Word – this is where our obedience and trust are established – and I want to pray for us that we will have the same passion and delight and love for the Word that David had.  I want to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring the Word to life and cause it to be as real and as alive for us as it was for those who were inspired by Him to write it.  Why shouldn’t we?  It’s the same Word and the same Holy Spirit.

No. 4 – The heart of the Father is one that is truly thankful and grateful…  and it’s the same during the seasons of joy and celebration, as it is in the seasons of trial and difficulty.  

David says:

Psalm 100:4 (NKJV),  “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”

There’s something about having a thankful heart that takes you in through the gates to God’s presence.  Gratitude brings peace.

Whinging, complaining and negativity on the other hand create a gulf between us and God.  It’s the opposite of faith and trust.

David had plenty of opportunity to be bitter and negative.  His own brothers hated him and rejected him.  Saul tried to kill him.  His wife mocked him and berated him.

But he continued to exhibit faith and trust in God.  He honoured God regardless of the battles he faced and the struggles he went through.

There are so many of his psalms where he starts out sharing his troubled heart with God, but he always transferred all that into being thankful for God’s intervention in his life.

No. 5 – this is where I want to talk about David’s dramatic fall…  where he not only committed adultery with a married woman – while her husband was away fighting in David’s army – where David should have been – but then he arranged for him to be left vulnerable on the front line to be killed.

There’s nothing of God’s heart in all of that.  But His redemption came when he was truly repentant.  When he was confronted by Nathan the prophet and exposed, David confessed his sin and broke down in repentance.  

A heart that follows after God will be a heart of repentance.  A heart after God’s own heart is never going to be perfect and without sin this side of heaven.  We all have our failures.  We all have our regrets.

But a true man of God will find redemption and forgiveness when he comes to God with a broken and contrite heart.

There are a number of psalms that express David’s deep anguish at what he had done, and they contain a cry from the depths of his heart to be washed and cleansed.

Psalm 51:1-2 (NKJV), “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.”

David’s failures didn’t mean he also didn’t desire and have a passion for keeping God’s Word and being faithful.  His battle between righteousness and evil was real.  Just as it was for Paul where he said the thing I want to do I don’t do, and the thing I don’t want to do, that’s what I do.  We find ourselves in that same place.  

But where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more and we have a way back through genuine repentance – heartfelt repentance – a grace and repentance that empowers us through the help of the Holy Spirit to gain strength and move forward and to be changed more and more into the image of Christ.

There’s one more thing about David that speaks of the Father’s heart.

No. 6 – David walked in the two great Commandments – to love God with all His heart and to love others!

We know he loved his close friend Jonathan.  But there’s a wonderful example of David’s love for others in the story of all the broken, discontented and distressed men who gathered to him while he was running for his life because Saul and his army were after him.

1 Samuel 22:2 (NKJV), “And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”

Somehow David rallied all these broken men together and formed a mighty army.  They actually became known as David’s mighty men.

This is the father’s heart – to not only make room for the broken and distressed and discontented – to accept them – but to begin to heal them and empower them and lead them into becoming all that they could be.

Men we have this God given ability and gift to gather other men – perhaps even the younger men – maybe men who are somehow struggling with pain, with addiction, who haven’t managed their lives well, who have made some bad choices, who have failed in some way – and give them the opportunity to grow into the mighty men of God that they have the potential to become.

What a powerful story of redemption!  It’s the Father’s heart to redeem broken people, lost people.

I don’t care what the leftist thought police would want us to believe – there is nothing like a father’s heart – especially a heart after God’s own heart – to carry the power of healing and restoration – to impart a sense of security and stability…  we all need good godly men in our lives.

This message has made me think about the father’s and men in my own life.  And there are heaps of them.  All of you men have an influence for good on my life in some way or another.  I’m blessed to have quite a number of other pastors in my life from within our movement and from outside.  They all bring something significant and are fathers in the faith…

I can tell you also that there are some of our young men who carry the Father’s heart – who are not fathers in a natural sense, but at various times they exhibit God’s heart in relationship, in ministry, in their attitudes and values.

It all starts with not only loving God, but having a divine love for others. 

So just to summarise these godly qualities that David exhibited:

He knew that joyful obedience would lead to blessing.

He learnt to trust God – firstly in fighting off wild animals, but then confronting a giant of a man, and then leading God’s army into battle.

David delighted himself in the Word.  He loved God’s Word and mediated on it daily.

He knew how to come into the presence of God with a thankful and grateful heart.

David knew the gift of repentance and how freeing and cleansing it is.

And he not only loved God, but he loved others with the love of God.  He knew how to gather lost, broken, disenfranchised men and turn them into mighty army.

Just before we finish off by talking about Jesus, there’s one more Psalm that speaks directly of the Father and reveals His heart.

Psalm 103:8-13 (NLT),  “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”

This is the heart of the Father.  It’s repeated in a similar way in a number of places in the bible.  Men this is who we are called to be!  Compassionate – merciful – slow to get angry – filled with unfailing love!   Tender…  but having a healthy fear of God.  Forgiving…  not dealing with people harshly as they might deserve.

It’s a high calling – but it’s the calling of all men to exhibit the heart of the Father.

And so we have the most perfect example of the Father’s heart through the life and works of Jesus Christ His Son.  In fact Jesus came to reveal the Father.

We could talk about all the compassionate and merciful things that Jesus did.  The healings, the miracles…  the way he reached out to the outcasts and made room for them to be accepted and loved.  The woman who washed his feet with her tears.  Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector that Jesus called down from the tree and had dinner with.  The woman at the well who had had multiple marriages and was living with a guy.  He went out of his way to be there for her.  There’s an endless list of lost, broken people whose lives were completely transformed because they encountered the love of Jesus.

Is that who the Father is?  It must be!  Is that who us men are called to be?  Well it’s a pretty good picture!

Weren’t we one of those people once?

Didn’t we need a bit of unconditional, gracious love to get our attention?

1 John 4:19 (NKJV),  “We love Him because He first loved us.”

1 John 3:1 (NKJV),  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!…”

The biggest boldest and most courageous thing that comes from a father’s heart has got to be love.  Everything else is grounded in love.  Without love, all we do is like a sounding gong.  

Galatians 4:6 (NKJV),  “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

If we want to know the Father, the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of His Son – is more than willing to reveal Him to you.  It’s the Holy Spirit that brings us to the place of saying, Abba Father.

Abba is the name that Jesus and Paul used to describe the very personal and intimate relationship that they had with God.  You might use something like Papa or Daddy to come anywhere near as close to the intimacy that they are talking about.

But we have the Spirit of Christ on the inside.  There is a cry from the depths of our hearts…  some of us recognise it and others of us don’t.  Men it’s you I’m talking to primarily.  

But if we want to be an expression of the Father heart of God, then we need to allow the Holy Spirit to bring that cry to the surface.  It’s a good thing.  A really good thing.

1 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJV),  “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers…”

Knowledge is good.  Teachers are good.  Workers and servants in ministry are good.  We need all that.  But where are the fathers?  Are you a father to other men and women?  Are you a father to our young men and women?  Do they see the father’s heart displayed through your life – through your love?

The message I want to make sure I get across this morning is that you can be that person.  Don’t leave it to the women.  Women are awesome.  They nurture, they love, they accept, they are affectionate…    But they are not fathers!  

Men we need to be so one with Christ, and One with the Father, and One with the Holy Spirit, that we just exude fatherhood!

Jesus prayed the most beautiful and powerful prayer for us all when poured out His heart to the Father.

He prayed:

John 17:21-23 (NKJV),  “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the  glory which You gave Me I have given them,  that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me;  that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Jesus always said and prayed what the Father revealed to Him.  Our highest calling is to be One with the Father, just as Jesus is One with Him and One with us.

In that place the glory is released upon our lives.

There’s a glory from God that is particularly for the men – it’s the glory of fatherhood.  It’s the glory of being able to share and reveal the father heart of God.

I’ve always believed from this scripture that glory has a lot to do with that place of intimacy and relationship with Abba Father that Jesus is praying about.

The example of David as a man after God’s own heart is a wonderful example of the qualities and attributes that we can operate in.

But the place of glory that John is telling us about is something else again.  It’s next level.

Every one of you men has the gift of glory to be fathers to those around you.

Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to release that cry from our hearts this morning.

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