Resource Sheet 9 – What is God like as a Father?

“Is He not your Father, your Creator who made you and formed you?” (Deuteronomy 32:6)

He is Someone Who understands, is always there, always interested, always in control.

  • We are created in His likeness, His image. (Genesis 1:26,27)
  • A glorious Father. (Ephesians 1:17)
  • He is a compassionate and comforting Father. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
  • An unchanging and consistent Father. (James 1:17)
  • A Father who is aware at all times of our every circumstance. (Matthew 10:29)
  • We have a generous, personal Father. (Luke 11:13)
  • He is our Father. (Matthew 6:8)
  • An understanding Father who knows our needs. (Luke 12:30)
  • A Father who loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 3:1,2)
  • A Father who disciplines his children in love. (Hebrews 12:7; cf. Proverbs 3:11-12)
  • He is an Abba (Daddy) Father. (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6)

Knowing this we can come to our Father with confidence, knowing we’ll receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrew 4:16). So why do we often find this so hard to do? Because the heart of the Father is hidden behind our faulty image of father gained in childhood.

Consequences of an earthly father’s actions

  • Children need more than the intellectual knowledge that he or she was loved.
  • If a father was affectionate and loving, the child will have a natural inclination to trust God.
  • If a father was dysfunctional, with erratic behaviour through mental problems or alcohol dependency for example, the adult may find it hard to trust God and depend on him.
  • If a father made promises to the child and they were not kept, the adult will find it hard to believe God’s promises.
  • If a father was absent (physically or emotionally), the adult may find it hard to believe that God will be there for them or enter into the love and blessings of God.
  • If a father was too busy with no time to talk with the child, the adult may believe God is not interested in the things that concern them.
  • If a father ignored the child, favouring other children, the adult may find it hard to believe that God doesn’t have favourites, or that they are special to God.
  • If a father failed to affirm the child the adult may be lacking in confidence, unable to take risks and withdrawn from life.
  • If a father was a perfectionist, never satisfied with the child, the adult will believe God is never pleased with them and they must try harder to earn his love.
  • If a father is abusive a child may grow up with a distorted image of God, a God who is hostile and could not possibly love them.
  • If a father is harsh and judgmental a child may grow up believing God is like that, critical and condemning.
  • If a child has not known the love of a parent, the adult may be unable to receive or express love, and will often seek relationships in inappropriate places and ways.

The Unchanging Love of the Father

“What marvellous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to. But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him – and in seeing him, become like him.” (1 John 3:1,2 – The Message: The Bible In Contemporary Language, Burgundy Bonded Leather)

For too long we have mistakenly believed we can enter into intimacy with our heavenly Father by begging for forgiveness and by being ‘worthy’. Wrong!

  • We do not ask for forgiveness in order to have a loving relationship with our Father. We are already in a loving relationship with Him. We ask forgiveness because we love Him and are truly sorry that we have hurt Him.
  • We do not pray, read His word and worship in order to enter into a close relationship with our Father, we pray, read His word and worship because of the close relationship we already have with Him.

On the cross Jesus said the words, “it is finished”, at that moment our acceptance was complete, love had triumphed. You may find the following helpful to assist in building a closer relationship with Father.

Our Response to our Heavenly Father. (Romans 8:28-39, Hebrews 10:19-22) 

  • Choose to trust Him, to believe that He loves you unconditionally.
  • Thank Him for identifying with you, taking your sin and guilt.
  •  Receive the sandals of an heir, the ring of authority, the robe of honour.
  • Praise Him for His unconditional love and acceptance.
  • Worship your perfect heavenly Father and with confidence proclaim:

I know You will never … (eg. leave) ………………………………. me.

I understand that You will sometimes … (eg. discipline) …………….. me.

I know and am sure that You will always … (eg. love) ……………….. me

  • Choose to come home to your heavenly Father. With Jesus your Saviour and Lord beside you, walk confidently up to Him, see Him joyously running to meet you.
  • Listen to Jesus speaking:”Father here is My brother/My sister “X”, I’ve brought him/her home.”
  •  Hear your loving heavenly Father reply:

“Welcome child, I have been calling you and waiting for you. I have always wanted you. I have moved mountains to have you for My own. I am jealous when you choose anyone or anything before Me. I want you to love Me more than any other person, more than your dreams or your ambitions, more than people’s approval, even more than you love yourself. Know that I have always loved you – child do you love Me?”

If you had some difficulty in moving into that close relationship with your heavenly Father, there may be some unresolved problem with your earthly father (parent) that remains. Continue drawing near to your heavenly Father, trusting in His enduring and unconditional love, until you have that inner assurance of His welcome.

Obedience

A marriage starts with a covenant commitment of the man and the woman to each other. It develops as the couple grow in intimacy and love and spend time speaking and listening to each other. Hebrews 8:8-12 speaks of the new covenant, a covenant sealed with the blood of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we come to know God. Once we have entered into this relationship with the Father it needs to grow. As we spend time with the Lord, growing in love and intimacy, we will hear his voice and know he hears us.

(Adapted from Malcolm and Diana Dow, Hearing God’s Voice Course, Resource Sheets 9 and 15)

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