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Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. - Exodus 20:12 (NLT)
In January, I referenced my dad, Herman Chandler, in one of the daily devos. He worked for over 50 years selling men’s clothing in the area. Several people reached out to me saying they knew my dad and had bought clothes from him. Dad had a birthday in May, so my wife and I invited my parents out to dinner. I took a picture and posted it on Facebook to capture the moment. Along with the picture, I said, “This gentleman is 80 today. He’s the kindest person I know. Grateful to celebrate him! Happy Birthday, Dad!” A bunch of likes and dozens of comments later, I found that I wasn’t the only one who thinks well of him.
With a career in retail sales all those years, dad would work when everyone else didn’t. He would often wrap up his day after 9pm when the mall closed and was at the store most Saturdays. A hard worker, he was great at what he did. He isn’t on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, yet he still gets a lot of likes. Dad is a man of few words, yet his presence and humble nature speak loudly. This Scripture comes to mind when I think of him: Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 NLT)
Since Sunday was Father’s Day, I felt prompted to honor my dad. We’ll spend some time this week thinking about fatherhood and the Father we all share. I’ll look forward to learning with you!
When you think about your dad, are the memories pleasant or painful? Is there anything about your relationship with or view of your dad that could be impacting the way you see God as Father? A good father always responds graciously to his children. Pray and ask Him to meet you where you are in your understanding of Him. He’ll respond kindly.Share Tweet
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. - Ephesians 6:4 (MSG)
As a dad to four kids (well, they’re all in their 20s now), I’ve thought over the years about how my role as a father informed the way my kids see God as a Father. This thought would often come to mind on Father’s Day. In all honesty, the thought would sometimes be accompanied by guilt, as I knew how much I sometimes missed the mark as a dad. Being a pastor, I would rarely miss Mother’s Day and Father’s Day church services since they were considered important Sundays. Behind the scenes, those of us on the ministry staff would comment that it seemed like moms were celebrated and encouraged on Mother’s Day while dads were given a good kick in the pants and told to do better on Father’s Day. Mostly, I just thought I deserved a kick in the pants. I can’t recall talking to many dads (if any) who thought they were knocking that role out of the park.
As adults, my kids have been very kind to affirm my being their dad. While some of that might have to do with the fact that kids can be forgetful (and forgiving), I choose to believe what they say. In the end, my hope is that I was able to show them the way to their real Father. As much as our earthly fathers can inform the way we see God, the clearest picture of fatherhood is found in God, not humans.
We’re focusing this week on fatherhood. To any dad who might be reading this, don’t be too hard on yourself. Fatherhood is an invitation to point the way to the Father who does not fail or bail. Along with loving and providing for your children, guide them, by your own steps, to Him.
When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. - Luke 15:20 (MSG)
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three lost-and-found stories. We’ve come to refer to these stories as The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son. But the stories reveal more about the one searching than that which was lost. (It occurs to me that our approach to the Bible can be much the same. We often go to it looking for something about ourselves. A deeper relationship with Scripture unveils more about our Father than how we should behave. But that’s a topic for another devo!)
One of my favorite classical paintings is Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. The baroque master artist captures one of the final scenes in Jesus' parable as the wayward son is received back by his father. The disheveled and humble son has his back to the viewer, kneeling before his father. His badly worn shoes reflect a long and difficult journey. The father’s face looks tired, but also caring. One of the more fascinating aspects of the painting is Rembrandt’s treatment of the father’s hands as he embraces his son. The father’s left hand is defined, strong, and rugged while the right seems softer and more feminine. Rembrandt was sending a subtle message about our Father: He’s authoritative and deserving of reverence while also tender and compassionate, eager to receive us and forgive.
We’re spending time in this week’s post-Father’s Day devos reflecting on dads, and God our Father—the One “who knows exactly what you need even before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8 NLT).
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. - Ephesians 4:4-6 (MSG)
In recent years, I’ve found myself referring to God more as Father, especially as I interact with people pastorally. For instance, instead of saying, “God wants you to be whole and well,” I would say, “The Father invites you to be whole and well.” The personal nature of Father brings more understanding to who God is and the relationship He wants to have with us. The Apostle Paul also liked to emphasize God as Father in his teaching (Ephesians 1:3, 1:17, 2:18, 3:14, 5:20).
Acknowledging God as Father positions us to not only see Him more clearly, but also each other. If He’s our Father, we’re all His children. That clarifies my relationship with you. We’re a family, each with a unique role to play, giving and receiving for the good of the whole and the good of the Father. Teacher and writer Warren Wiersbe points out that Jesus prayed, “Our Father who art in Heaven”—not “My Father.” In fact, Jesus made over 150 references to God as Father in the New Testament.
Jesus’ characterization of God the Father was perplexing, even offensive, to the Jews who were listening to Him teach. They struggled to grasp God as a Father figure. Before Jesus, God primarily revealed His authority and holiness to His people. But this is why Jesus came—to complete the picture of God’s just and loving nature. Jesus said in John 14, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”
Do you find yourself thinking about God more as an authority to be feared or a Father who loves? Some of it might have to do with the experience you had with your earthly father. If you’re struggling to see yourself the way your loving Father sees you, consider again the cross. What more could He do to underscore His love for you?Share Tweet
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. - 1 Peter 1:3-5 (MSG)
Since Father’s Day was Sunday, we’ve been gathering this week around dads, fatherhood, and the truth that God is our Good Father. Jesus taught us clearly that the Father loves us and wants us to know Him. Jesus also invited us to engage the Father the way He did in the context of a personal relationship. When Jesus prayed, He didn’t say God in Heaven or Lord in Heaven. He said Father.
The word Jesus used for father in His native Aramaic language was abba. I remember an idea making the rounds a couple of decades ago that abba could be understood as something similar to our word daddy. That sounds nice, but some scholars have since walked that back saying that abba was actually the primary (and perhaps only) form of the word father available in that language. Some have said that a better understanding of abba, when translated, would be ‘my father.’ We don’t need an exact interpretation of the word, though, to understand Jesus’ relationship to His Father. All we need to do is watch their interaction. It’s the kind of interaction we see when a son and his dad are deeply secure in a trusting and loving relationship.
My prayer for you this week has been that you would embrace your rightful place as a son or daughter of God. Embrace that identity because the Father has so much He wants to offer you. Don’t let the evil one rob you of that truth!
Pray with me: Father, thank You for not only giving me life, but also redeeming it. It wasn’t enough for You to just create me; You also provide what I need and what I need to know. You’re so good to always receive me, and receive me back again. I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.Share Tweet