Psalms 103:13 (ESV)
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
It’s Father’s Day, and today I want to celebrate dads, but also point us to the greatest dad of all, our Heavenly Father.
THING DADS WILL NEVER SAY
Here’s the top ten things a father will never say…
10: Take my wallet and GO CRAZY shopping.
9: No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit complaining and let’s go to the mall.
8: Here honey, you use the remote.
7: Well, how ’bout that? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions.
6: Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend…you might want to consider throwing a party.
5: Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.
4: Hey, let me hold your purse while you try that on.
3: Let’s watch a chick flick tonight!
2: Honey, I know you’re tired. You stay home and relax while I take our child to the school speech night.
And the Number 1 thing you’ll never hear a dad say:
1: When I was growing up, we had it really easy!
FATHERHOOD UNDER ATTACK
Today, in Australia, men, and by extension fatherhood, are under attack like never before. There seems to be a battle of the sexes, but there doesn’t need to be. Elevating and celebrating women doesn’t mean we have to attack and hate men, and visa versa. We can elevate men and women without denigrating the other.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Not male and female and intersex, not male, and female and undecided, or questioning, male and female. As I say when I marry people,
In the consummation of the first marriage, the woman, whom God made, as a companion for man, was not taken from his head, to rule over him, nor from his feet, to be trampled by him, but from his side, that she might be his “equal,” from under his arm, that she might receive his protection, and from near his heart, that she might own, and command his love!
And yet, in our society, men and fatherhood are denigrated. Today, we want to celebrate fatherhood, and there’s no finer way to do this than by celebrating the greatest father of them all, God Himself.
1 John 3:1 (ESV Strong’s)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.
Father’s Day celebrates earthly fathers, but we need to celebrate our Heavenly Father above it all. See what kind of love the Father has given us, the word for love in Greek is a specific, targeted word… AGAPE.
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
The Beatles sang all you need is love, and then they broke up.
We have to start by saying that English is a poor language to describe love in. What we call love, the Greeks have 7 different words for, of which the Bible uses 4. So, in English, I can love my wife as I love Vegemite. I love the broncos, as I love my children. It’s the same word.
But in Greek there is EROS, sexual or romantic love, STORGE, familial love, PHILIA which is brotherly love that unites believers and the highest form of love, AGAPE, which is unconditional love, God’s love for us and, indeed, a true Father’s love.
Some of you have grown up with inferior concepts of a father’s love. Conditional love is “love if, love because”. I love you if you are obedient, I love you if you do well I’m your exams, or I love you because you’re so pretty, or so smart. But if you fail my expectations, I will love you less. That’s not God’s love.
Psalms 103:11-13 (ESV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
So, let’s look at a well known Bible parable and learn about the Father’s love.
THE FATHER’S LOVE
Luke 15:11-24 (ESV Strong’s)
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So, he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
1: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS GENEROUS
In this parable we see the father being generous with his sons. Great fathers are generous. The younger son wanted his inheritance early. In their culture, this was tantamount to wishing your father was dead, yet despite this hurtful request, coupled with the realisation the son was likely to blow the lot, the father remained generous in heart.
John 15:13 (ESV Strong’s)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
True love is so powerful, so generous, it would die to save another. Our Heavenly Father generously chose to offer His one and only Son, the most precious thing He had, in exchange for us…
John 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Sometimes we feel like God is holding out on us, punishing us, withholding blessing from us, but the Bible teaches us that we serve a generous and loving God. The heart of the Father is always loving always generous, always giving and far beyond our comprehension. In our daily life, we lose sight of how generous God really is…
Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong’s)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
The heart of the father is exceedingly abundantly generous!
2: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS NOT CONTROLLING
It takes courage as a father to love and not control. The father in the parable gave his son his inheritance early, without conditions. He didn’t say, “OK, here’s the money, but you need to invest it. Or tithe it to the church. Or buy me a new mower.” It was given unconditionally, and this takes courage as a parent! Jesus said,
Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV Strong’s)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (ie, have the same love as your Father in Heaven has) For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
God blesses all of us, without controlling us. He even blesses those who hate Him because His love is unconditional.
Fathers, I urge you to show the same love to your children, even if they are in rebellion! Don’t get all religious on them, don’t kick them out or reject them, love, and accept them, even if everything they are doing is against your beliefs.
You don’t have to agree with them, just accept them. If you reject them for something they’ve done, you you will never reach them for Christ.
One of our foster girls decided to turn into a boy, and she asked if I love her, and if I would agree with and support her. I replied, “Yes and no. Yes, I love you, I will never stop loving you, no matter what. However, I cannot and will never agree with your lifestyle choice but will love you anyway.”
Parents, I know many of you grieve over your children, that they have rejected Christ. You brought them up the right way, but there comes a time, when they make their own decisions.
Fathers and mothers, listen… stop making yourself feel guilty for the decisions your children have made. You may have made mistakes, and you could argue that the father in the parable made a mistake trusting his son.
Ultimately, their destiny depends on their decisions. It’s not your fault… it is their decisions. That being said, we are responsible to pray for our children’s salvation!
This father demonstrates unconditional love. He was generous and not controlling, and this led to…
3: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS TESTED
Psalms 78:40-41 (ESV Strong’s)
How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
Love involves risk, so a father’s love is at risk of being let down.
God’s Heart is broken, and He grieves when we rebel against Him. Imagine how the father in the parable felt when this wayward son took his inheritance and headed off to blow it all on partying. This father who had nurtured and provided for the son, brought him up in all the right ways, found the son he love had it thrown back in his face! If you love someone it’s always risky… your heart can be broken.
Some of you here know exactly how that feels. Some of you fathers understand this, because your kids have rebelled against what you believe is true and squandered their lives and broken your heart! If that is you as a parent…
Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong’s)
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
When I rebelled against my parents for a short time, I wasn’t thinking of their pain. I was just having what I thought was a good time; parties, girls, drink, etc. I broke my parent’s heart, and in my selfishness I never fully comprehended it… until I became a father.
We are like the prodigal son when we walk away from our Heavenly Father. Some of you here have been breaking God’s heart for a long time.
While you plunge into the life you choose to lead, you are plunging a dagger into the heart of people who love you, and especially God, who loves you and paid the price to buy you back from your foolish sin and lifestyle!
4: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS PATIENT
So, the father in the parable lost his son to a foreign country, where the son squandered all the father’s money on sex, drugs and rock n roll. Like so many of us, he just did what felt good. The son was selfish and irresponsible. His mantra… Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah!
Many of us have tried to live a life satisfying our own desires, and when we live this life, we start to understand how shallow it really is. In a heartbeat you could die and have nothing to show for the life you’ve lived except a trail of broken hearts and disappointments.
When you stand before God, and you will, the only thing that matters is whether you have asked Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour. Nothing else counts. Not money, prestige, fame, cars, houses, even family… nothing else counts. God either sees you, or He sees His Son. He patiently waits for you to turn to Him and repent.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong’s)
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God doesn’t want you to perish. If you die in your sins, it will break His heart because YOU will have chosen to go to hell. He gave the best of heaven to stop you going to hell and waits patiently for you to respond.
Look in your heart. That emptiness, that hole, which is never filled, that’s a God shaped hole, that only God can fill. If you want your life to count, if you want to live in peace and have your soul prosper, come to Jesus today. He awaits patiently, with arms open.
5: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS ALWAYS SEEKING
Once the son left with the loot, the father didn’t just go back to life as usual. I believe that from the very day the son left, the father was actively seeking him. He was praying and looking out for him, scanning the horizon, asking God to bring his son home.
Ezekiel 34:16 (ESV Strong’s)
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak,
Luke 15:4 (ESV Strong’s)
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
If you are not walking with God, God the Father is actively seeking you right now. Don’t reject Him again but run into His arms of love. You are loved, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how ashamed you are, you are loved by God. You don’t have to become good enough for God, just accept His free gift of salvation…
Luke 19:10 (ESV Strong’s)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
6: THE FATHER’S HEART IS RESPONSIVE
Once the son hit rock bottom, he came to his senses and decided to return home and just become a servant, knowing he had ruined any chance he had of being a son. He knew the Jewish law…
‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.
But the son took a chance on returning to the father. You need to take a chance and return to your Heavenly Father this morning, because I can assure you, He’s not out to punish you, He is seeking you to love you and accept you.
Luke 15:20 (ESV Strong’s)
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
The father was ready to respond in love. Jewish fathers never ran like this, but this one did! This father ran and embraced the son, and your Heavenly Father is waiting, ready to respond in the same way with you right now. Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve fallen to, God loves you today…
7: THE FATHER’S LOVE IS RESTORING
The father’s heart is always welcoming and restoring. When the son offered to just be a hired servant, the father lavished his love upon the wayward son. Come to Jesus today, and He will lavish His love upon you in the same way!
Luke 15:21-24 (ESV Strong’s)
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
What a welcome! This is not what the dejected prodigal son expected. He expected at best a lukewarm welcome home and a job, more or less the welcome his brother would have given him, a just punishment for his behaviour… but the father had other ideas…
This father not only forgave his wayward son, but he restored him to the position he had originally despised and cashed in on. There was no retrospective punishment, there was no penance required. The father didn’t have a list of rules to follow, or a minimum standard or a contract the son had to sign, there was only the restoring love of the father.
Isaiah 61:7 (ESV Strong’s)
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
See the amazing love God has for you! He will restore the life you should have led all along, a double portion, more than you deserve, more than you could even imagine!
A FATHER’S LOVE IS FOR YOU, NOT AGAINST YOU
You may had had a lousy earthly father, maybe someone who was distant or aloof, maybe abusive, or explosive, or a dad who always put you down. Whatever the Father you had here in earth, don’t let that distort the truth about your Father in Heaven. Jesus promised,
John 10:10 (ESV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
God’s not here to ruin your fun. He’s not here to make life miserable, He is here to give you life to the full. If you think a life of sin is fun, try holiness! It’s the best life you can live, and it’s here for you today.
YOUR DADDY WANTS YOU HOME
Here’s the true story behind a popular song from the 1970s (Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree)…
“A man was sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally, the young man revealed that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.
“To make it easy for them, however, he had written to them asking that they put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to tie a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn’t want him to return, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train as it traveled onward.
“As the train neared his hometown, the suspense became so great that he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, ‘In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?’ His companion said he would; they exchanged places. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, ‘Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?’
“His companion said, ‘I see the tree. But there’s not one white ribbon, there’s hundreds. Son, someone surely does love you, and wants you home.'”
Today there are a hundred white ribbons tied to the old apple tree, and they are all just for you! Your Heavenly Father’s heart is breaking for you, longing for you, waiting for you.
A CALL TO COME HOME
Some of you here have never asked the Lord into your life. You’ve been spending your life doing whatever you choose to do, just like the wayward son, but today the faithful Father is calling you home to Himself. Those hundreds of ribbons are tied to the tree, just for you see, so give your heart to Him today! He says come, come to the water and drink, come to the Lord and let Him show you how you can live a life beyond anything you could possibly imagine. He has a plan and purpose for you, so come to Jesus today and live!
Some of you here know the Lord but have not been walking closely to Him in recent times. Father’s Day is a great time to bless your Heavenly Father’s heart and tell Him that you love Him. His arms are outstretched, and He is calling you today. Recommit your life to Him, come to the Father on Father’s Day.
Now, let’s finish by praying for our kids who are not walking with God.