1. How do you view God? How would you describe him?
2. How does your view of God impact your choices/actions/behaviors? Does your view of God help grow your faith or hinder it?
3. What do you think about God after you’ve heard that fact that He claimed Jesus as his own and was “well pleased” with him before him performed one single miracle or did anything to earn or deserve God’s love?
Good morning Hope City! I’m Pastor Peter, and today is exciting because we are continuing our Summer Blockbuster Series “At The Movies”. But not only that, today is FATHER’S DAY! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MEN IN THE ROOM. We’re so grateful for you. You’re influence cannot be underestimated. In fact, today we’re going to discover that God has a plan for every man in this room. Whether you are a biological father, or you hope to be one day, your role in our church, our community, and this world is CRITICAL!
In fact, the importance of Fathers is what brought the movie Instant Family to the big screen this past Fall. Instant Family is a dramedy based on writer-director Sean Anders and his wife’s real-life experiences fostering and eventually adopting three young siblings. The couple in the film, Pete & Ellie, hit pretty much every bump in the road on the way to becoming a forever family. Well, how about this, turn your attention to the side screens as we check out the trailer to INSTANT FAMILY…
Instant Family is a heartwarming movie with some mature themes throughout, FYI parents. This film follows the story of 3 siblings as they bounce through the Foster Care system seemingly unwanted, and hard to love. There are a lot of laughs along the way, but it is mostly because the movie displays just how hard parenting is, especially Fostering. Fatherhood is an adventure! It’s one crazy moment after another. And there is an interesting parallel in this movie with what is going on in our society.
While many of us men know and believe that there ain’t no hood like Fatherhood… we get it that Fathering may be one of our most important jobs, there are still many of us who have given up what ONLY YOU can do, for what SOMEONE ELSE can and WILL do. No one else can be the dad to your kids…. But someone can step into your job and do what you’re doing.
We live in what psychologists and sociologist are calling “The Fatherless Generation”. There are far too many people, young men and women, boys and girls, who are running around with Daddy Issues. These issues stem from the fact that some men have abandoned the calling that God has placed on their life. And it’s left a generation of people trying to figure out what is going on. Who they are. What they’re good at, and how to proceed. Sometimes our minds can be messed up, anyone else feel this way?
The Theologian, and Pastor, A.W. Tozer, has said that “What Comes into our minds when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
Some of us think about God like our GRANDPA. You know… he’s been around forever, he’s kind enough for sure. But man, the text font on his iPhone is so big everyone else can see it, he doesn’t understand how there are videos in the cloud or how to stream those videos on Netflix. He just isn’t that relevant anymore. Or maybe you think of God like a COSMIC SCORE KEEPER. He is tracking everything you do. Every miss and every make…. And you are sure that one day there is going to be a time when you’re going to have to pay up for your mistakes if the scoreboard goes the wrong way. Or maybe when you think of God you think He’s just an ANGRY OLD MAN. You know, He’s just waiting for you to step out of line, and BOOM, He’ll zap you with a lighting bolt. Or some people think about God like a HEAVENLY BUTLER. You may not be willing to say this out loud… but you definitely act like you believe it. You don’t think about God till you need something. It’s kind of like Siri or Alexa. They’re always in the room, always listening, and showing up in your news feed the next day, but You don’t actually think about them, till you need them.
What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you, because a flawed view of God will produce a flawed way of living! If you think that God is the Cosmic Score Keeper, than the chances are pretty good that you’re going to live your life constantly trying to just be a better person. Or if you think that God is ANGRY all the time, than you’re going to live a life of fear. You’re just always one mistake away from God causing a car accident or giving you cancer as a punishment for how terrible you are. You wicked, evil person… And then, if you view God as the heavenly Butler, you’re probably disappointed with God because he’s left you hanging. And what kind of butler doesn’t do what is asked of him? One without a job. So, you’ve just fired God from your life.
Our view of God is critical. In the Old Testament, God used Judges, Prophets, and Kings, to try and communicate His truth to humanity. And they messed it up. God cared about our relationship so much so that God sent His Son Jesus to earth to help show us and teach us more about who God is. Jesus teaches us one thing about God more than anything else. He shows us that God is a judge, God is a provider, God is a creator, yes… but more than all of that, Jesus shows us 189 times in the 4 gospels that God is a Father. This is more than any of the other attributes of God.
When Jesus teaches us to pray, what does He say, in what we have come to know as the Lord’s prayer… what does He say?
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven’” Matt 6:9
Right before Jesus instructs us on the words that we should say, he says 3 times that we should go to our Father. Look at this…
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matt 6:6-8
Sometimes we wonder, Does God see me? Does God care about ME? Jesus is so clear…. God is a Personal Father. God sees YOU, and knows YOU. We see from our Heavenly Father, that Pt. 1 A FATHER IS PERSONALLY INVOLVED.
From birth, there is something inside of kids that is begging for their Father’s Blessing. It is why kids say, “Hey Dad look at me!” Daddy, did you see it? We’re asking, Dad, what do you think, was it good?
- Dad look at my sandcastle!
- YEAH BABY GIRL, that is the best Sandcastle I ever saw.
- Dad did you see me dive in to the pool?
- I KNOW! No Splash! SO GOOD!
- Dad I made the Freshman Soccer Team. Are you going to watch me play?
- I wouldn’t miss it for the world champ!
I don’t know that we every really grow out of this.
This past year, I had the privilege of Baptizing my two oldest kids, Noah, and Grace. And that day was all around incredible. We saw people publicly declare their faith in Jesus and take their next steps in their journey of faith. Baptism Sunday’s are some of my favorite Sunday’s here at Hope City. But I sat right down here on this chair in the front row, and I just started to cry. Because 10 years ago, I lost my dad to a terminal illness. There was an empty chair next to mine. And all I could think about that morning was, Dad, I wish you could see me right now. I wish you were sitting here with me. I wish you could see what God is doing here at Hope City Church. I know my dad would be proud of me. I know that my dad would put his hand on my shoulder, hug me and say, You’re doing a great job, keep it up. All I wanted was my father’s blessing.
And for some of us, there is a gap that has formed because of our relationship with our dads. There may be an empty chair in your life. And we’ve allowed this empty chair to begin to define what our relationship with God looks and feels like.
If God is primarily showing us that He wants to be known as Father, then our spiritual enemy will do everything he can to destroy fatherhood. Satan will take what God designed for good, what God designed to bless and equip our kids and turn it into something that leaves them confused, disappointed and discouraged.
The enemy knows that if He can destroy our understanding and experience of our earthly father, He can destroy our image and understanding of our Heavenly Father.
The other night I was putting my girls to bed and they were sleeping in the same room, and I leaned over and gave Grace a hug and a kiss goodnight and I said, Grace, You’re my favorite. Just loud enough so that Leah could hear me. I said, you know you’re my favorite because you’re the middle child and no one else could possibly be the middle child just like you! I love you. You’re my favorite! And I could hear Leah like sit up a bit almost in silent protest. But then she saw that Dad was coming over to her bed, and she giggled a bit, and I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and said loud enough for Grace to hear, Leah, You’re my favorite. You know that… You’re a bundle of joy and energy, and you keep me laughing. I love you! I don’t ever want them to wonder if I love them, or about how much I love them.
There is another picture that we get of God the Father… and another lesson for us to learn. It’s found in Mark chapter 1, look at this.
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 
Do you know something? This event took place before Jesus did ANYTHING. God the Father, in the beginning of the gospel was WELL PLEASED with Jesus before Jesus performed any miracles. Jesus hadn’t walked on water yet. He hadn’t forgiven anyone’s sin yet. He hadn’t died on the cross, or rose from the dead yet. And yet, we find God the Father saying, I’m Well Pleased with my son.
It’s as if God is showing us from the very beginning that, PT. 2 A FATHER’S LOVE ISN’T EARNED. You don’t have to try, or perform to deserve a Fathers love. It is instant. When you become a child of God, you are instantly loved by God… it’s not an introductory kind of love. It’s the full amount. There is no version of you that God is going to love more than He already loves you.
Dad’s we should take note of this! If we’re not careful, we will pressure our children into performing for us, rather than opening up to us. If their worried about their performance, you will never be able to properly influence their character. We don’t see Jesus earning the Father’s love, and there has never been anyone who has come before us, nor will come after us that will be required to earn God’s love. God’s love is a free gift. The Apostle Paul explains it this way,
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life set you free from the law of sin and death.
Paul tells us that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin and mine, and that in so doing, we have been freed from the death hold sin had on our life. And he gives us this incredible picture a few verses later,
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 The Spirit you revived does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Do you know what Paul is saying? You don’t have to wonder who your father is anymore. You don’t have to wonder what he is like… you aren’t left guessing in the dark. You are children of God! Because of Jesus, you and I have been adopted into the family of God. This chair no longer sits empty. You are a part of an INSTANT FAMILY. You’re not perfect, no! But God loves your imperfect self perfectly. Paul is so certain of this truth that he writes this:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you hear this? There is no fear! Your heavenly Father loves you regardless of your circumstance, regardless of your position, or your past. Dad’s, we get an incredible glimpse of what it looks like to father the way that we have been fathered by God. Pt. 3 A FATHER’S LOVE IS UNWAVERING. It doesn’t come in and out like the tides of the gulf. There are not moments where you love your children more… There are moments where your children wear you out more… yeah… but that doesn’t mean you love them less.
Our two oldest went away on for the 12 conference that HCY attended, and the first day Tiffany and I were like… WOW this is amazing. And then usually around the 36 hour mark, we start saying… I wonder what their up to. I wonder what their doing. Well, I got invited to go to the 12 conference for a few hours on Tuesday, and I came home and I started bragging to Tiffany about how I had seen the kids and she hadn’t. A father’s love is unwavering.
I know that there are some of you in this room right now who are hearing this and saying, what’s wrong with this guy. Did He prepare for this? I mean, it seems like all he’s saying is, God loves us. YES, and AMEN. On this Father’s Day, I know that some of you in this room feel an extra sting of pain because your earthly father was absent, or abusive, or performance based, or passive… he just wasn’t involved. Or maybe your dad was antagonistic towards you.
As your pastor, can I just take a moment and tell you that Your Heavenly Father is nothing like that? In fact, for some of you, you may need to hear me say this so clearly… YOU HAVE A FATHER WHO LOVES YOU! You need to stop wondering, where is my father? We don’t need to walk around with Daddy issues any more.
Do you know what I’ve started waking up and saying to myself everyday? I’ve been declaring this over my life, I say this statement, You have a father who loves you. You have a father who loves you for who you are not for what you do. You have a father who loves you and won’t leave you. Why?
I shared with you earlier that my dad’s been gone for 10 years. I’ve grieved the loss of my dad, I cried… I did everything. But 10 years later, I feel something different. And it is painful. It’s a new pain that I’ve yet to feel before this. It stings in a new way. I know my dad loved me. I know He was proud of me. I’m not questioning that. But it’s been 10 years since I’ve heard him say it. And His absence has left the chair empty.
I wonder, this morning, how many of you would say, Peter, I’ve got some daddy issues going on. Maybe not with my earthly dad, but with my heavenly Father. I believe that God wants to do some heart work in you. Your heavenly father loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Because of Jesus, In an Instant You’re Part of God’s Family for Eternity. And yet, some of you in this room don’t feel loved by God. You’ve heard that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son”, but in some way you don’t believe that you’re apart of that world. Let me tell you that there is no better day to understand the Heavenly Father’s love than on Father’s Day.
Dad’s you matter. Men, what you do matters. You may have the privilege of being someone’s biological father, or maybe you have the privilege of being a foster father, and for this moment, you get to play a role in the life of a precious child. Or maybe you are an adopted father, whether legally or not, you play the role of father in someone else’s life. YOU MATTER. We need you. We need Godly men to stand in the gap, to sit in the chair, to stay engaged and point people to Jesus. Your role as Father helps people understand what God is like. Don’t whimp out, don’t check out, don’t flake out. There is a generation of young men and women who need you. And we’re going to do everything we can to come alongside of one another. I’m excited to share with you that as of today, we are launching our Men’s Fraternity. Later today you’re going to get an email from me with a link to our Men’s Fraternity Facebook page, a place to engage with one another and encourage each other, as well as over the next several weeks, be on the lookout for some Fraternity Events for you to be encouraged by other men. We need one another!
YOU HAVE A FATHER WHO LOVES YOU! Maybe today, you would say Peter, I can’t say that I’ve ever known a heavenly Father because I’ve never placed my faith in Him. Or Dad’s you would say, I’ve not been a great father figure, because I haven’t been following the Heavenly Father.
The greatest decision you can ever make is to bring your life to God and lay it at His feet and say, ABBA Father, I need you. Daddy, God… I need you in my life. I know that I’m a sinner, my life is messed up. I need your forgiveness, I need your love. I don’t want to go one day more without experiencing the unwavering, unconditional love of God the Father.
This morning as the band is playing behind me, I want to invite you to make the most important decision you will ever be faced with. In an Instant you can join the Family of God, by trusting Christ as your savior and following Him with your life.
This morning I want to invite everyone to close their eyes and I want to invite you, if you want to be in God’s Family forever, this Instant would you raise your hand? Put your hand up… Those of you who put your hand up, You can pray something like this quietly in your head, “God, my Father, I need you. I’ve lived life on my own, for my own, my sin is clear. Father forgive me. I give you my life now. In Jesus name, AMEN.”
If you made that decision, we want to celebrate with you and cheer you on.
But this morning, maybe you need prayer for something else, I’d love to pray with you and for you today. While the band leads us in a time of response to what God has been doing, if you want someone to pray for you, I’d be honored to do that down front here.
Let’s worship our Heavenly Father today for WHO HE IS!