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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers' Day

Father’s Day has added another dimension to my battle with cancer. The cancer is pointing me toward more dependence upon my heavenly Father while reminding me that my time is short even with my own sons. I’m told they’ll be 18 before I know it :). Consider Psalm 103.8-12. Here are four characteristics of our heavenly Father that should be in each of the fathers at Heritage.

1. The Fuse of God - Verse 8 describes God’s patience with us: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” He’s got a long fuse. Yes, God gets angry. But it is righteous anger, and thankfully for us, God puts up with a great deal before reaching his boiling point. Over and over again, the Bible tells us the reason God exercises such great patience is that He desires we take advantage of this extension of his grace to turn from our sin, seek his forgiveness, and begin to obey him. Yet most of us make the mistaken assumption that God’s patience really means that He isn’t that concerned about our self-willed disobedience. And so, we abuse His patience. We ought to be thankful that God has a long fuse. He is patient with us. We ought to be patient with our own sons and daughters.
2. The Forgetfulness of God - The second characteristic is found in verse 9: “He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.” This indicates that God forgives and forgets. We don’t always do that with our own children, do we? Our kids do something wrong and we remind them of all the previous times that they did the same thing. Imagine God doing that to us. A father goes to God for forgiveness because he has unleashed a torrent of harsh words on one of his kids. He says, “I did it again, God. Oh, please cleanse me from this sin and give me the strength to manage my mouth.” And does God say, “You did it again? That’s putting it rather mildly, isn’t it? This is the 491st time you’ve done it. And, I stop forgiving after 490. Ask Peter. Sorry, but your full up in this sin.” Is that how God operates with us? God has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities (see v. 10).
3. The Forbearance of God - One man has said, “If God punished us every time we deserved it as believers, we would be in a perpetual state of receiving retribution.” Isn’t that the truth? God is so merciful. The Bible tells us of God’s forbearance because of Christ’s work. This is the heart of the Gospel. As a matter of fact, the only reason God practices forbearance toward us as believers is because of the Gospel - the power of which never stops saving us from sin. Christ paid for sin by suffering under the full wrath of God for us.
4. The Fathomless Love of God – Read carefully verses 11 – 12. David tells us that when we ask God to forgive our sins, he removes them as far as the east is from the west. If you ever wondered how serious God is about taking care of your sin, he has all sorts of analogies in Scripture to describe what he desires to do with your sin: He casts our sin into the depths of the sea or behind His back. He will not remember our sins. What kind of love is this? Have you ever experienced that sort of forgiveness? How fathomless is the love of the Father for forgiven sinners! It can’t even be measured.

If as fathers we could just keep our minds on these four things, we could be the fathers we need to be for our children. God’s patience, power to forget, forbearance, and love are available to us in the treasury of His Word …available daily. Are we willing to allow God to forge these characteristics upon our own hearts? That is, will we trust and obey our heavenly Father to provide what is needed to be earthly fathers? May the Lord so enable us! Happy Father’s Day!