Reproduceable Traits of our Heavenly Father
Study Guide, June 21, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
Dads are to be celebrated for their special care for the family, their hard work, their service, provision, and protection. You can even see some of these qualities in the various sayings Dads are known for. See if you have heard any of these sayings from the Dads you’ve known.
“Measure once, cut twice…measure twice, cut once.”
“If you drive up to our house, park in the driveway and honk the horn, you’d better be delivering a pizza, because you won’t be taking out my daughter!”
“No, I’m not yelling at you. I’m helping you hear!”
“God gave you two eyes and two ears and one mouth. And so you need to look and listen twice as much as you talk.”
“Can’t’ never did anything!”
“Well, go ask your Mother.”
“You just need to go outside and run around and blow the stink off you.”
And then when the day is done, some of the most consoling word kids hear from Dads, and Moms are: “Good night…love you…see you in the morning.” That right there just assures kids that they’re loved, they’re secure, and that their parents are going to be there for them when they wake up.
Actually, if we tune in, we can hear our Heavenly Father saying that to us every night, through His promises that He has given to us: “Good night…love you…see you in the morning.” God is always there for us, reminding us that we are loved, we are secure in our relationship with Him, and our God is going to be there for us, whether we wake up on this side on Earth, or on the other side in Heaven. He’s there…He’s Immanuel…He’s got us covered…He’s even got all of our tomorrows all settled and ready to go for us. And that’s what we wanted to talk about with Dads today, some of these reproduceable traits of our Heavenly Father.
Let’s just identify a few reproduceable traits and then we’ll flesh out a couple in particular. Here’s a great one from Ps 127:3-4- “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” NASU Just like God views you as gift in His family, help your children understand who they really are to you: They are gifts from the Lord in your family. Help them incorporate that into their identity: A gift from God, placed into your particular family for a particular reason and for a particular season….but a ‘gift’ foremost, and in particular.
Another reproduceable trait is found in Josh 1:9- “This is My command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” NLT God calls us to live a life of courageous faith, based upon trust and assurance of our God’s supply and His strength and His promises. Trust in God that way yourselves Fathers, and then encourage your children to trust Him, too.
And some more reproduceable traits, or virtues, are from 1 Cor 13:13- “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” NIV So Dads, try to be a ‘FHL’ guy yourself: Try to be a ‘Faith-Hope-Love’ Father. For those of you who love ‘acronyms’ or ‘abbreviations’ just try to think and live by this pattern of ‘FHL’. Be a ‘FHL’ man…a man of faith, hope, and love example for your family. And to illustrate that, let’s dig in a little further together.
When Mark Stuart, the once lead singer for the Christian band, Audio Adrenaline, was growing up, his family served with the Northwest Christian Mission in Haiti. He often heard the children at the Mission singing one particularly catchy song. And so he asked his Haitian friend what they were singing in Creole. He said it was a song called: ‘Lakay Papa Mwen’…meaning, ‘My Father’s House’. And some of the lyrics were: “Come and go with me, to my Father’s house. There is joy, joy, joy, in my Father’s house.” Mark said that this song was about those who believed that in this fallen world there was a good Father who had a house big enough to hold their joy. The door was sized for children. And you could only get in on your knees.” 1
That song became the inspiration for the song that Audio Adrenaline became known for, “Big House”. We have sung it a bunch of times here at the Chapel, especially at the end of celebrating various Youth Mission trips. But one of the most appealing and encouraging things about the song is not just the celebration of the joy in the Father’s house, but the celebration of the joy in the Father about us! The picture is of our Heavenly Father’s joy over His children…over us.
I don’t know how often you think about one of the most remarkable descriptions of God that there is in the Bible, but there is one verse that can change your entire understanding of the character of God. Look long and hard at this: Zeph 3:17- “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” NIV Do you ever think about your Heavenly Father this way…and think about God doing that, rejoicing over you with singing?
Some Christians have a hard time letting themselves think about God this way, because it’s like with what Bruce Wilkinson once pointed out, that many Christians go around each day thinking that God is always just a little bit miffed at them all the time. You know what he’s saying; like God is always a little bit mad at them? And since they think that about God, then they don’t think about God as a ‘rejoicing God’, since they are thinking of Him more of as a ‘reluctant God’, like ‘Yeah, God has forgiven them, but He’s still holding a bit of a grudge about it all.’
Brother or Sister, if you have been carrying around an image of God that is anything like that, then you’ve been carrying around a completely distorted image of our God. And it’s long past time that you let go of that image and then start carrying around this clear Biblical image where God Himself shows you a picture of what your Heavenly Father is really like and how He really feels about you, as in: Your Heavenly Father is so glad to have you as His saved child, and in His forever family, that He not only rejoices over you…He even rejoices over you with singing…God sings about you! Did you know that God sings about you? Can you image how God sounds when He sings…the Creator of singing and song?
Again, this one verse about our Heavenly Father is life changing. And a great thing for Fathers is that, in a similar way, their rejoicing attitude toward their children can also be life changing for their children. This is to be a reproduceable attitude for us earthly fathers. As Fathers communicate their joy over having their son or daughter as their child, as they display their rejoicing love and not a reluctant love, as they show by their attitude and their words and their works that they are glad to be the Father of their children, it creates a settled assurance and a security in their children’s lives that becomes a strong foundation upon which children can then grow and build their lives. Again, our Heavenly Father’s attitude towards His children, towards us, is a reproduceable attitude for Fathers to have towards their children.
Plus, remember that saying that you can’t give to others what you don’t have? Yeah, you can only give to others what you have. Much of the lack of the display of love and the sharing of love and the demonstration of love to others by believers is due to their lack of having fully received from God the kind of love and quality of love and experience of love that God has been trying to give them. And He will give it to them if they will only let Him.
Fathers, we have to let our Heavenly Father give us what He’s been trying to give us. And this major thing that He’s trying to give us is this understanding and this experience of our Heavenly Father’s love. But, in order to know and to experience this love of God, we have to let go of our pre-conceived notions about it. We have to let go of any previous bad experiences, and let go of any personal habits that are preventing us from coming to better understand and to then receive and experience this love of God that He wants us to experience. Understand this: What changes our lives for good is God’s love in us. And subsequently, what changes other’s lives around us is that love of God that is now working through us! And Fathers, know this: There is nothing more valuable nor virtuous to pass on to your children than the love of God flowing through you. There’s nothing even close to matching this priceless treasure of the Universe!
Now, here is another reproduceable trait of God’s that is closely linked to this life-changing gift of love. It is another gift; it’s just that we don’t often think about it as a gift. Let’s look at the commandment: Eph 4:32- “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” NIV Did you know that kindness, compassion, and forgiveness have nothing to do with what kind of temperament or personality any of us have? No, since these virtues are ‘commanded’ by God, it means that the demonstration of kindness, the practice of compassion, and the giving of forgiveness supersedes all temperaments, supersedes all personalities, and supersedes all personal feelings about it all. It is a matter of objective obedience. Obedience to Ephesians 4:32 is not based upon a suggestion by God, but by a personal commandment by God to each of us.
But now, also remember something else that is very important about God’s commandments, but is so often overlooked, and that is this: God’s commandments are for our good! Remember that? Translation?…God’s commandments for us are not only for the purpose of rightly relating to and glorifying God, but also for the purpose of bringing about good in our own lives and good through our lives to others! Living by God’s commandments is the best and highest and most rewarding way to live.
Fathers, if you can communicate that fact to your children and help them understand that you cannot improve upon God’s commandments, you cannot experience a more blessed life than the life of obedience, and you cannot reap any greater benefits than by doing what God says to do, then, again, you will have equipped them even further with the skills needed to tap into the treasuries of Heaven. Now, you can’t obey God’s commandments for them, but you can obey God’s commandments ‘before’ them. You can demonstrate ‘The Obedient Christian Life’ before them…before their very eyes and lives. And your obedience to God will become gifts to them, whether they recognize that now or later, but surely in time.
And speaking of time, we just have time for one example of that. Here it is: One of the greatest gifts that you can give to others, that you can give to your family, next to love is: forgiveness. Oh yeah, forgiveness is a gift…that’s why it’s called ‘for-give-ness’. Think about it: When God ‘for-gives’ us, it’s a gift from God to us. And as daunting as it can be to forgive, God even gives us His help for us here as well. The key is found in that Eph: 4:32 command. And surprisingly enough, the help is found in just two words; and those two words are: ‘just as’…as in; “…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And the ‘just as’ here means ‘according to’, or ‘according to this pattern’. You see, forgiveness is not a personal preference for you to consider. No, forgiveness is a preset pattern for each of us to follow… “just as in Christ God forgave you.” It’s a preset pattern that is based upon this profound gift that you have already received from God; ie. God’s forgiveness; God’s gift for you. ‘For-give-ness’ is God’s gift ‘for’ you. In fact, it’s an underserved gift. And that is the key to ‘for-give-ness’…it’s undeserved. The other word for that is ‘Grace’, which means ‘unmerited favor’, ‘undeserved favor’. And ‘grace’ is the key to ‘forgiveness’.
Remember that, and it will help you in your own practice of ‘forgiveness. We were saved by God’s grace, we live by God’s grace, and we are to live with others according to, or according to this pattern of God’s grace. And that frees us up from having to keep track of who deserves what or who doesn’t before we will deal with them the way God dealt with us. ‘Just as in Christ God for-gave you’… Just pass that on. Just pass on the grace that we didn’t deserve either, but we received it anyway because of who God is and not because of what we had done or not done.
Fathers, if you will practice this one pattern of forgiveness, this ‘grace-filled for-give-ness giving’ habit with your family and others, it will be one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them. And it is completely reproduceable, because you yourself already received this ‘grace-filled for-give-ness’ gift from your Heavenly Father.
If you want to be a good Father to your children and your children’s children, just give to them what your good, good Heavenly Father has given to you.
- Mark Stuart, Losing My Voice to Find It, pp. 30,31