Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Perfect Father

Some one has said, “Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” Mark Twain is accredited for saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven year.”

The fact is that a father’s presence in the lives of his children can yield significant, measurable benefit, and his absence can create an equally measurable risk for harm. I have never met a dad who wanted to be a failure at the job. On the other side it is probably true that none of us is the dad we would like to be! The busyness of life gets in the way. Too often we have let others take on our responsibilities. We have let school nurture the mind, churches the spirit and television (movies, video games and the Internet) provide entertainment, and the fast food restaurants take care of the nutrition department.

The brokenness and separation caused by sin compounds the difficulty of the day. There are many circumstances that make it difficult for a father today to be present in the lives of his children (divorce, separation, unmarried parents, widowhood). But is a father’s presence limited to his physical presence? Don’t we have a perfect model to follow?

God, Himself is the perfect father. However, often when thinking about God as Father, we allow our own personal experiences with our earthly fathers to color how we see our Father in Heaven. But it should be the other way around: Our understanding of God as a Father gives us the standard for what an earthly father should be like.

Without question, God’s main characteristic as a Father is that God is love. But God’s love is more than an emotion. It is a powerful impulse to act on behalf of His children. God’s love is manifested in many ways. Let’s just think about some of the characteristics of God as Father:

God is accepting. God’s acceptance is clearly shown through His display of mercy for humanity (Joel 2:13, Micah 7:18, Titus 3:5).

God is also accessible to His children because He has reveals Himself through His Son the Lord Jesus (John 1:1, 14, 14:9, Hebrews 1:1-3). We have access to Him through prayer in Jesus name (Matthew 6:9-13, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16).

He is actively present in the life of His Children because He helps them in difficult times (Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 28:7, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:6). He provides for His children’s needs (Psalm 31:19, Matthew 6:31-32, Luke 12:7, 1 Peter 5:7). He comforts they are hurting (Psalm 27:5, 103:13, Isaiah 43:2, 66:13). As a Father He guides His children when direction is needed (Psalm 25:9, 4814, Isaiah 42:16, john 16:13).

God the Father disciplines (or trains) His children not simply by punishing but by providing clear boundaries for them (Exodus 19:12-13, 1 Corinthians 10:23). He guides them to the right path (Psalm 1:1, 16:11, Proverbs 2:6-11). He corrects His children when they go in the wrong direction (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19). He sends warnings when disobedience and rebellion prevail (Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Amos 3:7). He provide opportunities for His children to repent and be restored (Ezekiel 18:31, Joel 2:12, Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 7:10). He does all the discipline or training with love and for the purpose of restoration (Psalm 94:12, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19).

God is a faithful Father in keeping His promises (1 Kings 8:56, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Romans 4:21, Hebrews 6:18). He is also faithful in keeping His commitments (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 36:5, 89:1, 103:17).

He is good Father displaying His goodness when He instructs His children in His ways (Psalm 25:8, 119:68). In His goodness He is a refuge to His children in times of trouble (Psalm 34:8, Nahum 1:7). As a good father He wants the best for His children (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13). As a good Father He is loyal and true (Psalm 100:5, 118:1).

In the next few post we will look at each of these characteristics and apply them in a practical way to our lives as Fathers in the twenty-first Century.

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