Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Learning Parenting From the Fatherhood of God

I. The Concept of God’s Fatherhood

We know theologically from the doctrine of the Trinity that God is a being who exists simultaneously as three coeternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We know that God the Father is a father to the second person of the Trinity, the Son. He also becomes the father through adoption to all who are in Christ. The Spirit within us causes us to cry out to the Father as our Abba, Father.

It is interesting to note also that the other two persons of the trinity operate in ways that can be described as fatherly. Consider the Son. Of Him in Isaiah 9:6 it is said, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

The last part of the verse are titles or descriptions that those under the reign of Jesus as King are prophesied to give him. As they take counsel from him He will be seen as wonderful. His power will give him the title of mighty God, the result of his reign will establish him as prince of peace, but his care over his people as children will cause them to ascribe to him the title “Eternal Father.” Jesus also tells his disciples in John 14:18 that he would not leave them as orphans. This is interesting in light of the fact that he had just indicated that he would send His Spirit to comfort them and dwell in them. He follows with an indication that he and the father would dwell in them.

So we see in many ways that Fatherhood is integral to who God is and how he treats his people.

It is important for us to realize that human fatherhood is a derived concept. It is not as if God’s fatherhood is merely an anthropomorphic way of communicating with us, but rather that our fathering is reflective of the image of God in man.

It is no surprise that He would bid us in Eph 5:1 to be imitators of God as beloved children. Later in chapter 6 verse 4 when he instructs fathers on how to treat their children that the model for parenting would be God himself. This is similar to the fact that when He instructs husbands and wives on how to live in marriage, that the model they are to follow is Christ in His relationship to the church. God’s plan of redemption comes first and marriage is designed to reflect that Gospel covenant love.

Likewise, in parenting we are mostly called to reflect God’s fatherly care of His children in living out our duties.

This study seeks to learn from God’s Fatherhood the characteristics of parenting. I simply gathered all of the passages that speak of God’s fatherhood and deduced a characteristic about his fatherhood. Amazingly, it turned out to be 26, one for each letter of the alphabet. So, here’s the A to Z.

II. The Characteristics of God’s Fatherhood.

A. God is a compassionate father.

This is seen in direct statements (Psalm 103).

This is seen in his treatment of those in need of compassion.

Psalm 68:5-6 5 A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

B. God is a delivering father.

Isaiah 63:15-16 15 Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. 16 For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.

C. God is a molding, shaping father so that his children are the works of his hands.

Isaiah 64:8-9 8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

D. God is a father who expects the obedience of his children.

Jeremiah 3:19 19 "Then I said, 'How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!' And I said, 'You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.'

E. God is a father who desires his children’s works to reflect well on Him.

Matthew 5:16 16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:44-45 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

F. God is a father who rewards obedience.

Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 6:4 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

G. God is a father who knows the needs of His children.

Matthew 6:8 8 "So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

H. God is a father who is available and approachable for requests.

Matthew 6:9-11 Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 'Give us this day our daily bread.

John 15:16 so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Romans 8:15 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

I. God is a father who is forgiving.

Matthew 6:14 14 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

J. God is a father who takes care of His children’s needs.

Matthew 6:26-33 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

K. God is a father who is giving and gives good gifts.

Matthew 7:11 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

John 16:23 23 "In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.

James 1:17 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

L. God is a father who gives spiritual things.

Ephesians 1:17 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

M. God is a father who gives responsibility.

Matthew 11:27 27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father;

N. God is a father who reveals truth to His children.

John 15:15 for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

O. God is a father who is able & ready to protect His children.

Matthew 26:53 53 "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

P. God is a father who is kind, merciful and comforting.

Luke 6:35-36 35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

1 Peter 1:3 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Q. God is a father who loves.

John 3:35 35 "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

John 10:17 17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

John 14:21-23 21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

John 15:9 9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

John 16:26-27 26 "In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.

1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.

R. God is a father who wants to be honored and imitated.

John 5:19-27 19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

S. God is a father who teaches.

John 8:28 28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

T. God is a father who knows and is known by His children.

John 10:15 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 John 2:13 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.

U. God is a father who is concerned to bring forth fruit in His children.

John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:8 8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

V. God is a father who shares.

John 16:15 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine;

W. God is a father who makes promises and keeps them.

Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;

Acts 2:33 33 "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

X. God is a father who exercises authority.

Acts 1:7 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

Y. God is a father who impartially judges.

1 Peter 1:17 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

Z. God is a father who has fellowship with His children.

1 John 1:3 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Loving Others When Differing on Christian Liberties

I recently started a series on parenting, but in the first two lessons I covered principles of Christian liberties because there are so many issues where people have strong disagreements on parenting that can cause division. We need to recognize when CL is in play and determine to love each other and strive for unity.

Principles for Christian Liberties

1. You need to decide whether the practice is a Christian liberty.
i. Does the Bible address this issue?
ii. Is it contrary to a command of Scripture (1 John 3:4; Ps 119:105)?
iii. Is it contrary to a principle of Scripture?
iv. Is it consistent with having Christ as my Lord? (1 Cor 6:19-20)
v. Is it consistent with Biblical examples? (1 Cor 11:1)

2. You need to decide whether or not you can practice the liberty yourself.

a. You need to determine your own view about the liberty (Rom 14:5).

Helpful questions to consider?
1. Is it beneficial? (1 Cor 6:12)
2. Is it potentially enslaving? (1 Cor 6:12)
3. Will it tend to lead me into sin? (Rom 13:14)
4. Is it beneficial to others? (Rom 14:20; 1 Cor 10:33)

b. You need to make sure that you have the faith to do it (Rom 14:14, 22-23).
c. You need to make sure not to violate your conscience ( 1 Cor 8:7).
d. Can you practice this liberty unto the Lord? (Rom 14:6-9; 1 Cor 10:31).

3. You must recognize that this liberty might not be viewed the same way by others (14:5).

4. You need to give those who differ on this issue the benefit of the doubt that they are able to practice what they do as to the Lord (Rom 14:5-9).

5. You shouldn’t judge or despise your brother for his practice, leave that to God (Rom 14:1-4, 10-13).

6. You shouldn’t argue about Christian liberties (Rom 14:1, 1 Cor 13:5; Phil 2:13; 1 Cor 3:3; 2 Cor 12:20; 2 Tim 2:14, 23-26).

7. You need to use wisdom and discretion in when and where to practice your liberties.

8. You need to have sensitivity for the views of others and a willingness to limit your freedoms for the sake of others.

9. You usually need to make sure that you do not do anything in public that would cause your brother to stumble (Rom 14:13, 21; 1 Cor 8:9-13).

10. You usually shouldn’t practice in public something that another person’s conscience condemns (1 Cor 10:27-33)

11. Make sure to be most interested in edifying others (Rom 14:15, 19; 1 Cor 8:1; 10:24).

12. It is important to try to inform the conscience of the weak and not allow the weak to lead the church.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Praying for Your Children

One of the ways that we can love our children is by praying for them prayers that are really important. The following is an outline of a study I just led on praying for your children. It also includes the prayers of Paul as models.

I. Pray for Their Salvation (Romans 10:1)

II. Give Thanks

A. For the faith you see (2 Thess 1:3)

3We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged,

B. For the love you see.

and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

C. For the perseverance you see.

4therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.

III. Pray for Christ to be glorified in their lives.

11To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

IV. Pray for their completion in sanctification.

1 Thess 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

V. Pray for them to love.

1 Thess 3: 11Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

VI. Pray for spiritual knowledge, wisdom & understanding.

Col 1:9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

VII. Pray for their walk.

Col 1: 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

VIII. Pray like this.

Phil 1:9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Eph 1:15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Eph 3:14-21 14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.