Heart of the Father is what Father’s Day is about. This is a day when we honour our fathers, and let’s face it, father’s can be quite unique, with their own way of doing things, and their own brand of lame jokes.
Here’s the top ten things a father will never say…
- 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.
- 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!
As father of the year this year, I was greatly honoured by my girls. That they think so highly of me really touched my heart, and as I heard them describe me on camera, I wondered who they were talking about.
Since receiving this award, I have done a number of interviews on radio, and each time I am asked for my advice as a father. I answer this question in a profound way… that we father’s must love our children unconditionally!
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.
We live in a world where fathers, like everybody else, love conditionally. Some of you have grown up with this, and understand it very well. 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 the greatest love, the highest form of love is agape love, unconditional love. This love says I love you, no matter what. No matter what you do, or say, or achieve, or fail at, or become I love you and I will always love you. This is the kind of love the father has for us, it is the heart of the Father.
Many of us here do not really understand this love. You may have only ever experienced conditional love, love tied to how you perform or how you look. In conditional love, if you don’t perform up to the standard, as set by your parents, your partner, your kids or anyone else, the love is withheld.
Unconditional love has to be modeled on the ultimate Father’s love, God’s love for us. So let’s have a close look at God’s love for us, the heart of the Father as we examine a beautiful passage on the Fathers Heart…, and no other passage illustrates the heart of the Father like this one…
THE PRODIGAL… LOST AND FOUND
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.
You might remember, the brother wanted justice, he wanted this wayward brother punished for his sins. But the Father loves the boy unconditionally, and forgave his sins despite the cost, and welcomed him home.
1. THE HEART OF THE FATHER IS GENEROUS
If this parable we see the father being generous with his sons. The heart of the Father is generous. The younger son asked for his share of the inheritance early, and even though the father knew that his son was going to squander it, he remained generous. In their culture, asking for your inheritance early is like wishing your father was dead, yet despite this hurtful request, 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.
I would lay my own life down before I would sacrifice any one of my girls. Yet 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 generous, always giving and far beyond our comprehension. The heart of the Father is so big, and so generous that He gave His one and only Son to die in our place. 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 HEART IS NOT CONTROLLING
10 Rules for Dating my Daughter, from an overbearing dad…
- Get a job, and keep it
- Understand, I don’t like you
- Be home 30 Minutes early… If you’re not early, you’re late
- I’m everywhere, and I see everything
- She my princess not your conquest
- Break her heart and I break your legs
- I am a lie detector… don’t even try to lie to me
- I own a glock
- I don’t mind going back to jail
- The reality is, she will always love me more
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 neighbor 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, even those who hate Him, because His love is unconditional. That is the heart of the Father. 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, you cannot be a force to reach them.
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, the decisions they make are 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 HEART OF THE FATHER IS BROKEN
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.
The heart of the Father 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, because 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 even saw 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 HEART 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. 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.
Right now, the heart of the Father is waiting for you. He waits for you to turn to Him…
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill 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 waits patiently, with arms open, that's the heart of the Father.
5. THE FATHER’S HEART IS 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, 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, the heart of 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 HEART OF THE FATHER 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. That's the heart of the Father!
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 heart of the Father was ready to respond in love. Jewish fathers never run like this, but this one did! This father ran and embraced the son, and your Heavenly Father is ready to respond in the same way with you right now. Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve fallen to, God loved you today…
7. THE FATHER’S HEART IS WELCOMING
The father’s heart is welcoming. When the son offered to just be a hired servant, the father lavished his love upon the wayward son. If you come to Jesus today, I believe He will lavish His love upon you in the same way!
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; and so we are.
We don’t deserve such love, but the generous and unconditionally loving heart of the Father lavishes spiritual riches and blessings upon us, and gives us eternal life. We deserve death, you and I, but if we repent and come to Jesus, He gives life, and life to the full!
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 and a job, more or less the welcome his brother would have given him, just punishment for his behaviour… but the father had other ideas…
8. THE FATHER’S HEART IS RESTORATIVE
This father not only forgave his wayward son, but he restore 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 set of standards 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 dishonor 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!
SOMEBODY WANTS YOU HOME
Here’s the true story behind a popular song from the 1970s…
"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.
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. Let's have the heart of the Father for them...