Galatians 4:6: “And because you are sons (no longer slaves), God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”
Luke 11:13: “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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
It’s dangerous to preach on Father’s Day weekend (the same as Mother’s Day) [Not necessarily that a shooter will come in – as happened in Charleston, South Carolina this past Thursday]… but there are many who desire to be a father or a mother, but for a number of reasons do not have children or are separated from their children. This can be a very hard time of year for many. In addition, although all of us had a biological father, for too many in our world, some fathers were not godly fathers as God intends; but they were / are abusive, absent and extremely sinful, exactly opposite to what God intends!
Rev. Ken Klaus, Lutheran Hour speaker, told of some letters he received from listeners after preaching a father’s day sermon. One wrote: “Let’s not speak about fathers when Father’s Day rolls around. My father’s message to me was, ‘Son, you’re a loser, you’re always going to be a loser.’” Rev. Klaus writes: “Today the father is dead, and the boy has grown into a driven man. He works 24/7; he is angry, his temper is short when anyone questions his judgment. He knows he is making unreasonable demands on his wife and children. He has trouble at work. He knows all these things, but he seems unable to escape the haunting, ugly words of his father that ‘he will always be a loser.’”
Another lady wrote, “I and my sister were sexually abused by our father from the time we were about ten. I don’t like Father’s Day… and I still have a difficult time praying, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.'”
Even those of us who have been blessed with loving, caring earthly fathers, and all of us who desire to be loving, caring earthly fathers, have sinned often and disappointed our wife and children. We are not the fathers that God would have us to be. (Lord, have mercy!)
For this reason, it’s not hard to understand what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel –“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…” This is probably NOT the message you expected to hear on Father’s Day – “though you are evil” – but 1) it is true; and 2), it emphasizes the Good News from God’s Word in the “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)
So, on this Father’s Day weekend, as we pray God’s blessings on all earthly fathers, (especially praying for God’s revealed truth that changes lives for those who remain caught in the lies and sinfulness of their earthly fathers) we rejoice in the “how much more” of our loving relationship with God, Who is our perfect, loving, heavenly Father.
As Jesus teaches us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven;” what do you think when you pray, “Our Father?” Hopefully it’s not the image of an abusive father; nor on the other hand, that it is just some words SO familiar that it has NO meaning. Jesus invites us to KNOW our heavenly Father completely as a little child loves, trusts and feels secure in their earthly, loving father – inviting us to use the intimate: “Abba, Father.”
Jesus often shocked the Jews of His day. One of the ways was addressing God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, as “Father”; and especially as “Abba, Father!”
Before Adam and Eve fell into sin, they “walked and talked with their “Abba, Father.” But after sin came into the world – they were afraid and hid from God; they knew guilt and shame. Because of sin, God sent the Flood; He scattered the nations at the Tower of Babel; Moses was to remove his sandals at the burning bush where God revealed His name as “I AM Who I AM,” God was the All-powerful Rescuer out of Egypt / Who demanded obedience and threatened curses when disobedient. At Mt. Sinai, amidst storm cloud, lightning, thunder, smoke and fire, God said, “I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me…” (Exodus 20:5) He was the God who “sat enthroned between the cherubim” on the ark of the covenant, in the Holy of Holies (in the Tabernacle and the Temple) where the High Priest could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement! Throughout the Old Testament, God was thought of as the unapproachable/ far off / Almighty Creator and Ruler and Judge.
Many still see God, the Father, in this same way – “far off” / “disconnected” / the Rule-giver; Some One to be feared. Even those of us in the church–what kind of relationship do we have with God, our heavenly Father? How many of us regularly think of our relationship with God as “Abba” the way a small child does? Or, in our daily lives, do we see Him as far removed / disconnected from our every activity? Do we see Him as the Accountant, keeping records of our “good” and “bad”.
We know and boldly confess the correct doctrine: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…” We pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” BUT DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR LIVES? The devil also knows the doctrine. He also knows that doctrinal affirmations, as important as they are, don’t make children. How much more our heavenly Father wants to “create a clean heart and renew a right spirit” within us, giving us the Holy Spirit and all the divine daily and eternal gifts!
Thanks be to God that He tells us (Galatians 4:4-7) “When the time had fully come, God (our heavenly Father) sent His Son (Jesus), born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!
As we see and experience earthly fathers loving and caring for their children, HOW MUCH MORE our Heavenly Father LOVES and CARES for us!
Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit, working in us again today and every day, works in our hearts through Jesus, to re-examine our relationship with God, our heavenly Father, to know and receive the gracious blessings of living
- not only as “confessing-with-our-lips Christians,”
- not only as trying-to-please-God as obedient disciples,
- but as dear children of God, who delight in the daily living of the “HOW MUCH MORE” that God graciously gives to all of His dear children – so that we think and live in a way that cries out to God – “Abba, Father.”
God’s blessings this week as we live in the wonderful care of our Father, and as we gather again this next weekend to continue to receive His precious gifts and grow in our relationship with our “Abba, Father” with our sisters and brothers in Christ.