Theme: Our Father in Heaven (Sunday 6 Sept, 2020)
Series: Sept 2020 Online
Bible Reading: Psalm 89
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
This Service will be run Online Only – 9am on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/turramurrauniting/live/
Kids Church Activity Sheet Download
This Sunday we will be acknowledging and celebrating Father’s Day in our online with a number of creative ideas. For the main input in the service, Phil will be inviting some new ways of participation as together we explore different passages of the Bible and the parental characteristics that scripture applies to God – Our Father in Heaven. We would love for you to connect with us for Father’s Day.
Being Father’s Day, I thought that we could be engaging and helpful to explore some ideas, concepts and biblical insights around the idea of God being like a Father.
But this is not quite as simple as it sounds – largely because with the 100 or so people watching today, we would have a diverse range of experiences of fathers and some of those experiences are not always helpful when thinking about God being like a Father.
I found this interesting 4 minute video which can explain it better than me … so to start this learning journey let’s watch this video.
“Foster Kids Fathers Day”
Did you like that? In his exploring of what it means to talk about God our Father, there were some gems of insight in the video that I want to shape our input this morning.
Metaphors and Analogies for God.
The bloke in the video is right. Scripture often uses metaphors and analogies to describe God or to talk about the character of God. We can’t confine God to a single, simple analogy but these images and words can help give us a little bit more of an insight into who God is and what God is like. We are going to come to the idea of God being like a Father in a moment, but let’s just broaden the idea to all metaphors and analogies for God … because the Bible is full of them.
Our Bible reading today which the kids read for us is full of these descriptive images and analogies:
- Faithful, Mighty,
- Arms endowed with power
- Giver of great love
- Foundation of justice and righteousness
- Owner of our horn and shield
- Our father, Rock, Saviour
And that is just scratching the surface of the hundreds of images, metaphors and analogies the bible uses to describe God or God’s character.
I am going to try and interactive word cloud.
Log on or type in the comment section …
Light, love, glorious, shepherd, bread of life, redeemer, provider, protector …
Show off word cloud.
God our Father
But the key metaphor out of our Bible reading and the focus of the video I showed was the line that God is our Father. This is a metaphor that is used many times in the bible … for example Jesus when teaching the Lords Prayer in Matthew 6:9 said
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”
But when you dig a little deeper this idea of God being our heavenly father is not something that is uniform all through the Bible but rather is a developing idea.
You might be surprised that there are very little references to God being our Father or like a father in the early parts of the Old Testament. There is definitely the idea of a relational God … God declares many time to the Hebrew people that he will be their God and they will be his people – but the imagery of God being a Father just isn’t used much at all.
It is in the Psalms that we see the metaphor starting to become more common.
Psalm 103:13 – “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”
And the reference from our bible reading today
Psalm 89:26 – ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock and my Saviour.’
The prophets continue to develop this idea towards the end of the New Testament such as Isaiah 63:16 – “You, Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name”
But it is Jesus who really cements this metaphor … but for Jesus it is not a metaphor but rather a reality … as the Son of God, it made sense to refer to God as the Father. And there are many verses where Jesus calls God “Father” such as Matthew 11:27, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” or Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
But Jesus didn’t just refer to God as HIS father, but also invited his followers to see God as THEIR father too. Such as Matthew 23:9 “you have one Father, and he is in heaven” and of course the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father in Heaven”.
By the time Paul was writing, this God the Father metaphor was very common … although you can still see that Paul shifts in his writing from the phrases “God and Father of our Lord Jesus” or “God THE father” to God OUR father, which is much more person … and even talking about God as “abba father” or daddy …
Romans 15:6 “Glorify the God and Father of our Lord”
1 Cor 1:3 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father”
Romans 8:15 “We cry Abba! Father!”
But it is John who uses this metaphor the most, in his gospel but particularly in his letters as he affirms that God is not only our Father but we are God’s own children!
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
So, plenty of biblical examples of this metaphor of God being our Father … but is it a helpful metaphor. I really appreciated the video that we watch before … the acknowledgement that our life experience – an in particular the experience of our own fathers, can influence whether this metaphor is helpful or not.
The example of the cheater was a great explanation … if the kid has never seen a cheater run, how are they supposed to know that the cheater is usually fast.
But the real gem of the video for me was idea that saying God is our Father is not saying God is like our experience of our dads but rather “When our earthly fathers get it right it gives us an insight in to the character of God”.
So how does this idea of a good earthly father gives us insight to God’s character?
To finish this sermon I have 9 bible verses that builds upon the God as Father metaphor by highlighting some characteristics or things that God does as our Father.
Example … Psalm 89:26 – ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock and my Saviour.’ ROCK / SAVIOUR
- Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. MERCIFUL
- Psalm 103:13 – “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”
TENDER / COMPASSIONATE
- Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” DISCIPLINES / DELIGHTS
- Matthew 7:9-11 ““Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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! GENEROUS
- Isaiah 64:8 – Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. POTTER / SHAPER OF OUR LIVES
- John 14:16,26 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. … But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name. GIVER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Psalm 68:5 – A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. JUST / DEFENDER
- Ephesians 4:6 – one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. INCLUSIVE / OVER / THROUGH AND IN US ALL
Finish by echoing the words of the video
On this Fathers Day we want to say thankyou to all the fathers who show us the character of God. And may we thank God for revealing a little more of God’s character to us through our Fathers.
Happy Father’s Day.