Sermon Transcript — August 27, 2005 How Well Do You Know Your Heavenly Father? by Mr. David Register Do you know what your father does? How well do you know your father? No, not that father! Our Heavenly Father! Just what is it that God the Father does? There are a number of misconceptions out there; there are some people who feel that God the Father simply sits back and delegates everything to Christ, and Christ does everything. There's still others who feel that there's no difference between God the Father and Jesus Christ because they're really all one in the Trinity Doctrine, they're interchangeable; in every way, one is the same, two are the same, three are the same. But the Bible reveals, I believe, that we need to know about the Father and what He does. Recently several members had responded to a sermon I gave a couple of weeks ago, and asked more information, (and this is the result of that request), about the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. I talked about that a couple of weeks ago in a sermon that I gave on the subject of worship. Today I would like to follow up on that, (and also next week), by today explaining the role of our Heavenly Father, and what He does, the job that He performs, because I think some of us, (I was, before I started doing some research), are a little unclear about the role of God our Father, what He does. And what does Jesus Christ do? Do they perform the same duties? Or is there a distinction between the two Beings and the two jobs that they do, or the various duties they do? Let's begin in John, Chapter 1 and Verse 1, (John 1:1). Today I'm going to be using a lot of Scriptures. Normally I don't do that, but today I want to go through a preponderance of evidence that I find in the Scriptures that define the job of God the Father, and then next week I'll talk specifically about the role that Jesus Christ plays in the Godhead, in the God family, and the duties that He performs, because I think that there are some distinct and different duties, although they overlap in some areas and they are very closely associated, naturally, because these two people, as Christ referred to, are one, and often act as one, and that word that is used there is the same word that describes a husband and wife who become married, and become one; they work in a harmonious team. In John, Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 5, we find the oldest, (historically), Scripture in the Bible. It goes back before the creation of the earth. It begins much like Genesis; Genesis begins in the beginning. John 1:1 begins, In the beginning was the Word, (the Greek word Logos, which means speaker, or spokesman, or the One through which the commands are spoken), and the Word was with God, (and we teach that the two Beings have always existed, comprising the Godhead, the greater and the lesser, if you will, by agreement), and the Word was God (part of the God family, as we have explained, historically). Verse 2: He was in the beginning with God. Verse 3: All things were made through Him, (but created by God the Father, but through Christ), and without Him nothing was made that was made. Verse 4: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. Verse 5: And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. The relationship between God and Jesus Christ has been discussed, disputed, and argued for the last two thousand years. As I said, there are some who feel that God is a Trinity, somehow, the Spirit in Christ and God the Father are somehow united all in one and are interchangeable in their descriptions and in their job descriptions. There's still others that believe in two Beings; and there others who don't distinguish between them at all. So today, I would like to talk about the role of the Father, and as I said, next week I plan to speak on the role of the Son. And, I tried to make this (even though there will be a preponderance of Scriptures today) easy to follow, and as such I have picked twelve characteristics of God that describe what He does; twelve characteristics of God that describe what He does, and I certainly hope I do a better job today than I did to that first grade class, describing to them what I did as a Pastor. Most of the kids said, "Well, do you put out fires?" "No." "Do you arrest bad guys?" "No." "Well, what do you do?" "Well, I talk to people, I counsel people". To a sixth grader that doesn't make any sense, "What do you mean?" "I preach sermons." — Hmm — a lot of the kids in that school didn't go to church, they didn't understand that, but I hope today to make this understandable for all of us. The twelve characteristics that I have selected is not an exhaustive list; it is simply a list to help us understand that there is a distinction between the two roles that God the Father plays and that Jesus Christ serves. Characteristic Number One: God the Father works through Jesus Christ and others (we just read that). He has traditionally worked through others. He doesn't have to, but He's chosen to do that. Christ Himself said, "God can raise up stones to preach the Gospel", to work with people, but over the ages God has chosen to work through people and individuals, and through Christ. Let's notice Hebrews, Chapter 1 and Verse 1. Hebrews 1:1 talks about this concept, again a very old Scripture historically, Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry, various times, and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers through the prophets, In the Old Testament we find a number of patterns, if you will, by which God spoke to His people. Sometimes it was through one person, sometimes He governed through seventy, sometimes through twelve, sometimes through multiple judges at one time, and in the past God has dealt in different ways at different times in different circumstances. Verse 2: has in these last days spoken to us through His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (we just read about that). God's style of leadership is delegation — delegation. He trains people, if you will, through delegation. People learn through the assigned duties that fall to them, and of course, today we call that mentoring, in a way, or delegating responsibility and authority. And we're going to read several Scriptures today quoting Christ where He acknowledges that, that God gave Him power, God delegated something to do, to Him. In fact, let's go to John 5 (John, Chapter 5). We find that Christ, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, always defers to the Father, but God the Father does work through Jesus Christ and others. There are some things that He reserves to Himself, and Christ acknowledges that. I won't go through every Scripture, just perhaps to site one that Christ said, "No man knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Kingdom of God except the Father". He reserves that to Himself. But let's notice John 5. I'd like to begin reading in Verse 17. Verse 17: But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Now the God family is a working family. They work now, they worked in the past, they're going to be working in the future; they're constantly on the job producing, and working. I think we all understand that. The concept of paradise, or nirvana, or the Kingdom of God, if you will, being a place of eternal vacation is not a correct picture. I think we all know that. We will be serving in the Kingdom of God, and let me till you, everything we read in the Scripture indicates that we're going to be working very hard in the Kingdom of God. So, if you're expecting a thousand year vacation in the Millennium, "It ain't gonna happen," as they say! We're called to do a job, to work in the pattern of the Father and the Son. Verse 18: Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, (because He healed someone), but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. And often times in a familial setting the Son was considered equal with the Father, and especially the first born son, the heir; again, in the Jewish culture. Verse 19: And Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He see the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. Again, I think we have to refer to the Jewish culture where most often a son followed his father in the profession, and the profession was carried on from generation to generation. A carpenter was normally training his sons to be carpenters, and of course in Christ's day that meant basically a stone mason, a pretty rough job. He uses this analogy that He gets His orders from the Father, basically, is what He's talking about. Let's continue on, Verse 20: "For the Father loves the Son, (in other words, He does this, He works through the Son, out of love), and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. He said, "Look, there's going to be greater works around the corner," — what He's specifically referring to, I believe, is the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ; He was going to raise Him from the dead. The Father had to do that in order to, of course, raise our Savior. Verse 21: "For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. Now, this is interesting: the Father delegates to the Son the ability to resurrect. Now keep that in mind. I know we're getting a little ahead of the story and talking about next weeks' material, but we'll talk about one of the duties and the jobs of Jesus Christ, which is to resurrect. But again, I don't want to get too far ahead of the story. The point I want to make here is that the Father delegates, or gives that power to the Son. Notice: Verse 22: "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, Once again we find that God the Father is delegating, or has delegated to Christ, judgment. Now think about that for a moment. Many churches today picture the God of the Old Testament as a harsh judge. Have you ever heard that analogy, or seen it? And yet Christ says the Father has delegated all judgment to the Son. Verse 23: "that all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. There are things we will discover, hopefully in these two sermons, that will cause us to honor and respect and worship the Father and the Son for the jobs that they do. " He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. And I think, obviously, the analogy that I used a couple of weeks ago about the King and the Crown Prince fits into this analogy, that the people in Saudi Arabia honored the Crown Prince, and in doing so, they were honoring the King. They would not honor the Crown Prince as the King, otherwise that would be considered treason, and Christ, of course, talks of Himself in this context. So Number One, God the Father works through Jesus Christ. Notice Verse 26 and 27. Verse 26: "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, (talking about Eternal life) Verse 27: "And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. He's given Him judgment because He has experienced what it's like to be a human being, and can therefore judge us more effectively, because He's been there. So characteristic Number One is that God the Father works through Jesus Christ and others; He delegates. Point Number Two: (Let's go back to Revelation, Chapter 4 and Verse 10. We touched on this a couple of weeks ago, when we were talking about worship). Point Number Two: God we know created the earth through Jesus Christ, the Spokesman, the Logos, but God the Father is the One who now sustains that creation. He keeps everything running, and the more Scientists discover about our wonderful Solar System and our earth, it's a marvel that everything is balanced, all the laws of what we call the "laws of nature" are balanced in such a way that the earth is just the exact right distance from the sun, so that we don't all burn up or freeze to death. All of the orbs circulate around the sun in our Solar System at just the right speed to provide the correct atmosphere for earth so that we can all live. That didn't happen by accident. Maybe some of you have read or heard about the discussion that's going on now about the "Grand Designer", (talking about creationism), and the more Scientists discover, the more they realize that this universe had to have a designer, and not just a designer and a creator, but a sustainer. So one of the most important jobs that God does, (God the Father does for you and me), is sustain the laws of the universe; sustain life for us. Notice: Revelation 4:10 The twenty—four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Verse 11: "You are worthy, O Lord, (and again, from a couple of weeks ago, we need to understand that the term "Lord" can refer to God the Father, can refer to Jesus Christ, can refer to a "Blue Blood" in England; you know it's a universal title of respect), "you are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by You they exist and were created." By You they are sustained ; God sustains the creation, He sustains the universe, He sustains the earth; just the perfect balance for our benefit. Characteristic Number Three: John 6, Verse 44. Find that God provides this environment for us — (back a couple of pages, John 6:44, actually back a few books). I think we all know this Scripture, but I think it's important for us to understand it. Point Number three: The Father Calls us — The Father calls us. John 6:44 Christ said, "No man can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." Now Christ, of course, is involved in our lives; He's the head of the church. It's one of those responsibilities that God the Father has delegated to Christ, so they work very closely together, but it is the Father who calls. Christ said in His final prayer to the Father (that we have recorded), that He had been able to retain all of those that God had given Him (talking about His Disciples), except the one, the son of perdition. He acknowledged that God was the one who called even the Disciples to work with Christ, to be the foundation pillars of the church. God is the one who looks down and sees us and calls us individually, for His purposes. God is very involved in our lives. Christ acknowledged here, the Father is the one who calls. My father and his father, my grandfather, used to be in the sign business: they painted signs, they made signs. They had a sign business in Southwestern Missouri , a little town called Branson, (which wasn't even on the map in those days). But the last twenty years since Roy Clarke built his first theater there, it has expanded into one of the Country and Western Mecca 's of the world, and we have a Feast site there. And if you like Country and Western music, I highly recommend that Feast site. But my dad and my grandfather worked closely together. My grandfather ran the business, basically; he was not the creative one, he was the salesman. His nickname was "Cash Register", and not only — (it's true!) and not only was he a sign maker and a sign painter, he was also a real estate broker, an insurance salesman — you know, you name it and my grandfather probably had a hand in it in the little town of Branson, Missouri. And my father was the creative one who worked in the shop, and he learned — in fact he was, I understand, one of the better neon benders in Southwestern Missouri; he would blow and bend neon for their signs. So he would paint the signs, letter them, and then he would bend the neon and put it in, and he had a relationship with the customers, but my grandfather being the extrovert and the salesman was the one who called on the customers. He would call; he would go out and create the customer base, and then my father would, of course, (once the sale was closed), would go out and meet with the customer and get all the information and make the signs. I think it illustrates the point that God the Father is the one who calls us and brings us to Christ, and then Christ as the head of the church will work with us, (if I can use that analogy of my own family business). The business collapsed after my father moved to California and my grandfather died in an auto accident, just as a personal note, and so my dad hasn't done much sign painting or neon bending in the last forty years. But I thought maybe that analogy of the business would help us understand that the Father calls us and then Jesus Christ can work with us. So point three, the Father calls us. Characteristic Number Four: The Father gives repentance; the Father gives repentance. Let's go to II Timothy, Chapter 2. In II Timothy 2, verse 24 Paul is admonishing this young evangelist and trying to teach him how to be a good Pastor, and he says: A servant of the Lord must not quarrel (an Elder in the church must not be quarrelsome) but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, Verse 25: in humility correcting those who are in opposition; And our own human nature generally makes us enemies of our own selves. We do those things by carnal drives and natures that are in opposition to the well being of our bodies. That's what he's talking about. And then he makes an interesting statement; he says, If God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth. Beyond calling us, God grants us the ability to see the truth about ourselves, because when we see ourselves in relationship to God, then we can repent. So one of the great gifts that God gives us is the gift of repentance. We begin to see ourselves as we are, (that is, as nothing), and that brings us to the point of humility where we ask God for forgiveness of our sins. So God gives the gift of repentance; it is a gift. It's not something we conjure up. If someone is not repentant, you could talk to them until you're "blue in the face" and you will not convince them otherwise. But on the other hand, God can give this very special gift, the gift of repentance. The Fifth Characteristic is closely associated: The Father gives repentance. And then Number five: The father forgives us when we repent. Let's notice in I John, Chapter one. I'd like to begin reading in Verse 7. I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light—now who's the He being talked about here? Well, let's read the context: We have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son (so the preposition He is referring to the Father), and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins,—and again, that's one of the duties or responsibilities, or achievements that the Son has done, and we'll get to that next week. Verse 8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But through the process of repentance and the gift of repentance that God gives us, we acknowledge where we stand in relationship to God, and we recognize we need to repent; and so we repent to God, and then God forgives us. Verse 9: If we confess our sins, He (referring back to the preposition in Verse 7, God the Father) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So the Father gives repentance; the Father forgives us. John 3:16 says, The Father gave His only begotten Son,—for us; He continually forgives. The blood of Jesus Christ covers our sins, but God the Father is the one who forgives us. Characteristic Number Six: Again, closely related to the previous two (repentance and forgiveness), is the Father gives the Holy Spirit. The Father is the one who sends the Holy Spirit to us after repentance, after forgiveness, and after the laying on of hands. Let's go to Luke, Chapter 11. Luke 11:13 (Again, Christ speaking, if you get the red letter edition you can see this): "If you then, being evil (or carnal), know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" You see, it is the Father who gives the Holy Spirit. It is the Father who becomes our father. I think that's a very important concept for us to understand, and to understand that if God gives us His calling, He gives us the gift of repentance, He forgives our sins and then He gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit, all that is done by our heavenly Father that we would understand the depth of the love that God the Father has for us. He is not a remote, hard, monstrous Judge; He is intimately involved in each and everyone of our lives. Sometimes this concept is difficult to understand for some people. I remember counseling with a woman who came from a Roman church background, and she confessed to me that she had a very difficult time praying to the Father, because she said she had a very bad relationship with her own father. It was very, very difficult for her to see God the Father in a loving context, who loved her, and cared for her. If that's one of the things that I can communicate by reading these Scriptures to all of us, it is that God the Father is a tender, caring, loving, God. Who else would look down from His throne, on this earth — and if we've seen the pictures from the Space Shuttle we'll know how small the earth really is. And on that small earth He finds you and me, that small dot, and He picks us out, and then He grants us the truth of repentance, and then He grants us, after we repent, forgiveness. And then He grants us the gift of His Holy Spirit. That describes a tender, loving, caring, God the Father. Characteristic Number Seven: The Father gives growth to the church — the Father gives growth to the church. Let's go to I Corinthians, Chapter three. The apostle Paul here had written this letter (I think we all know) to the members of the church in Corinth (I Corinthians 3:4), and they had a problem in the church there. The church was divided, the church was carnal in so many ways, and Paul was addressing an issue here in Chapter three beginning in verse four: I Corinthians 3:4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another says, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? They had "popularity camps" within the church. They probably argued about how great a speaker Apollos was. After all, he was a Greek; he was probably a trained orator (many commentators would agree). And the Greek orators could memorize a speech and give it with passion, sometimes for four hours — they could memorize a four hour speech! And the Greeks had a method for memory, memory by association, and they would (I don't want to explain that in too much detail) — but they would go through their home and they would memorize the furniture and other characteristics of their home, and they would associate that with different parts of their speech, and they'd just be able to think of their home in their mind and the speech would rotate around them — through memory by association, basically. These Greeks were great speakers, great orators, so you can only imagine Paul talked about how he wasn't such a great speaker. Some of the points he made had a great deal of depth; he was very spiritual, but he wasn't such a great speaker. You don't find many books of the Bible preserved for us from Apollos, do we? None of those great sermons are recorded. I find that interesting. But there were definitely at least two camps that had developed in the church at Corinth where some people were real fans of this Greek orator, Apollos, who was an Elder in the church there, and some were fans of Paul, because he was pretty conservative, straight—line, down—the—line, doctrinal; he had a good education and Paul said, if you're in one of these camps, isn't that carnality? In Verse 5, he says: Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but simply ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? Verse 6: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. God is the one who gives growth to the church. You know, we could develop all kinds of marketing plans for marketing the Gospel: we could set up soup kitchens, we could preach on the corner, we could get a soap box, Washington Square; we could do all kinds of things, but unless God calls people, unless God grants people repentance to see themselves, unless God forgives, unless God gives His Holy Spirit, our efforts, Paul says, are all in vain; I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. God is the one who grows the church of God. Now remember our first point: God works through Jesus Christ and other people. Historically, He's always done that. God works through His church to plant the seeds, but I have met so many people who were called under such unusual circumstances that I would never dream of a marketing plan to reach that person — never! People who find magazines in dumpsters; people who stumble across a co—worker and begin to ask questions. God is the one who calls and gives the increase. Verse 7: So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. God is the one who is intimately and directly involved in the growth of the church. Characteristic Number Eight: The Father answers our prayers. Point number eight, the Father answers our prayers. Let's go to John 15 (back to John, this time Chapter 15) John 15:16 Christ says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you (again, through the calling of the Father), and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father—see, Christ didn't say that you'll ask me, or that you'll ask the Holy Spirit, or that you'll ask Mary, or that you'll ask the Patron Saint of your family—no, He said, You shall ask the Father in my name He may give you." Now, it's interesting, "In the name of Jesus Christ" is an expression that I think is not always understood as well. When we ask the Father, we pray to the Father and we ask in the name of Jesus Christ. It means that if Christ were there beside us, kneeling down and praying, He would agree with everything we're saying. That's what it means. In other words, we're doing this in the name of, or by the authority, or with the permission of, Christ. I don't know if you've ever seen any old movies of the Red Coats who came to America, and you know, they claimed the colonization of America—I know, I remember a movie that I saw one time where the Red Coats were walking down a road in New England outside of Concord, and a wagon was coming down the road, and they held up their hand and said, "Stop in the name of the King". And it literally meant, "I'm representing the King now, and if the King were here, he'd be telling you to stop." And that's what this expression, "In the name of Jesus Christ", means. It means whatever you ask of the Father in my name (as though Christ were kneeling right here beside me), He'd be saying, "Yes, Father, that's exactly what I would say". So now, if you've been wondering why you haven't won the lottery, even though you've been praying for it — maybe you will. Perhaps Jesus Christ doesn't want you to win the lottery; that may not be His will. So, even though you may ask in His name, you may be misrepresenting Him. That's why we always ask for the will of the Father and Jesus Christ when we pray. So He says, you ask the Father in My name He may give you. Verse 17: "These things I command you, that you love one another." Let's go over to Chapter 16 and Verse 23, where Christ, once again, gives this injunction to us regarding prayer (again, deferring to the Father), "And in that day you will ask me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you". So the Father is the one who answers our prayers, in consultation with the one who sits at His right hand, Jesus Christ. So Point Number eight, the Father is the one who answers our prayers. Point Nine: If the Father answers our prayers, then the Father heals—the Father is the one who heals. Let's go back to James, Chapter five, again, a Scripture that's probably familiar to all of us: James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. Again, we talked about what that means. Verse 15: And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord, (remember this interchangeable title), will raise him up. We just read about the one who answers our prayers, then God will raise us up (again, if it's in the will of God, and the will of Jesus Christ), and then Christ would indeed agree with this, and as I told you a few weeks ago, we can bargain with God in these circumstances. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Who is it who forgives our sins? God the Father. So we see here in this circumstance that it is the Father who answers prayers, and it is the Father who heals. Now He heals because of the sacrifice and the stripes of Jesus Christ. But again, I'm getting ahead of the story — that's for next week, the role that Christ plays. Characteristic Number Ten: The Father is the one who gives spiritual gifts and blessings. Let's go to James, Chapter one (back a few pages). James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, (and we've already covered that, haven't we? His spirit, His forgiveness, repentance, His calling—the greatest gifts we can have), and it will be given to him. I cannot tell you the number of people that I've counseled with who've made really made bad decisions, stupid decisions. And I've asked them, "Have you ever asked God for wisdom?" And they look at me with that blank look, like, "You mean you can ask for that?" I said, "Yes, you can ask for wisdom". Why aren't we wiser than we are? Because we probably don't ask. James 1:5 says: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God—why? Because we read previously in the book of John that the Father answers our prayers if it's in the will of Jesus Christ and we ask in His name — let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally, and without reproach. Sometimes I believe we do not make wise decisions because we haven't asked God for His wisdom. Other gifts, spiritual gifts and blessings: Point Number Eleven: Is found in Hebrews, Chapter twelve. Characteristic number eleven, the Father corrects us, tries us, and loves us—the Father corrects us, tries us, and loves us. Hebrews 12:5 We read, And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: (See, God sees us as His sons and His daughters), "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged, when you are rebuked by Him; — We enter into this Father— son relationship, this Father— daughter relationship, (and again, the writer of Hebrews is capsulizing Proverbs three, Verses 11 and 12), For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Verse 7: If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons ; You know, God did not call us particularly to a life without difficulties, problems and obstacles to jump over. He will help us through those, but we often experience, in everyday life circumstances, the ability and the tools to grow in character. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Verse 8: But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Verse 9: Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (The Father of spirits is the heavenly Father.) Verse 10: For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He (that is, the Father) for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. See, the outcome is that we can be part of His family, the God family, we can be part of that spirit world, we can be part of the Kingdom of God , with Jesus Christ as our soon coming king and High Priest. Verse 11: Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. The Father corrects us, He tries us with the circumstances we naturally go through and He loves us, in case we have somehow missed that point so far in this message. So characteristic number eleven, the Father corrects us, tries us, and loves us. Characteristic Number Twelve: The Father protects and rewards His sons and daughters. We've talked about one side, correcting and trying — let's talk about the other side, the flip side of the coin: the Father protects and rewards His sons and daughters. Let's notice Isaiah, Chapter forty. Isaiah 40:10 (I hope we can appreciate the poetic language that many of the prophets used, particularly Isaiah who wrote almost entirely in poetry, and in the New King James it has mostly these indented lines, and the poetry doesn't follow cadence in English — it was obviously written in Hebrew). But please remember that it is written in a poetic manner. Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; Now, "strong hand" in poetry was symbolic of protection; a "strong arm" was symbolic of guidance. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. Verse 11: He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arms,—Often times a shepherd would reach into the flock and protect the little tiny innocent lambs from predators to the flock. He would hold them in his bosom (as the next line says), and carry them in His bosom,—if had to walk away from a pack of wolves, or a lion, or some other predator for his flock, he would protect the weak ones of the flock,—and gently lead those who are with young. Is this how we think of the Father? As a tender, loving, caring Father, who not only extends these great gifts I've been discussing to us, but deeply cares for us, to protect us and to reward us. Notice back in Chapter 49 and Verse eight: Isaiah 49:8 Thus says the Lord: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you; (He sends His spirit, as we read, to help us.) I will preserve you and give you as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; You see what God is doing through us as His called—out people, is to prepare us to be pioneers in the kingdom of heaven, His kingdom. He takes a personal interest in a deep, caring spirit for us. Besides all this, the Father finds time to give each of us individual attention: love, concern, health and direction, comfort, inspiration. In Revelation twenty—one, verses six and seven, (I won't turn there), but God says He is our Father and we are His sons and daughters. I'd like to conclude back in John Seventeen, with the words of Jesus Christ that ended His last formal prayer that we read here before His crucifixion, and the final thoughts that He had I think are very interesting. John 17:25 "O righteous Father! The world has not known You,—There's a lot of confusion, even in the world in which we live, about relationship with God and Jesus Christ, even in our Christian world—but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. (We believe that the Father sent the Son, and that they have a divine relationship today.) Verse 26: "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it,—even in His last breaths of prayer, Jesus Christ deferred to and acknowledged the Father—that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." Brethren, we must come to see and understand that the Father is our Father, personally, and think of Him in terms of what He does–for that makes Him what He is. Let's honor and worship our heavenly Father for all He does for us.
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