Scripture: Matthew 6:7-13; Matthew 10:29
Theme: God as Father
Proposition: Advice from our Heavenly Father
This sermon is dedicated to sharing some Fatherly Advice from our Heavenly Father –
I. Take Care of Yourself – You are one of My Precious Children – Psalm 8
II. Live Life to It’s Fullest – Live the Abundant Life My Son Jesus Made Possible
III. Make Our World a Better Place – Bring Heaven to Earth - Matthew 6:10; Matthew 28:18-20
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
This morning I want to talk to you about receiving and accepting some excellent advice; advice that comes from our Heavenly Father. Advice that I believe wholeheartedly will help us be able to live the Abundant Life that He desires for all of us to live here on this earth and on the New Earth and New Heaven to come.
Too often people misunderstand the true nature of our Heavenly Father. They see Him as cruel, capricious and unfeeling. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Over and over again Jesus shares with us the true nature of Our Heavenly Father. Jesus reveals to us that He is Loving, Kind, Creative, Caring and full of Joy and Peace. He is not cruel, capricious or unfeeling. He is not even mad at us. Instead, He deeply loves us and wants the very best for us.
With that in mind let’s take a few moments and look at some advice that I believe that Our Heavenly Father wants to share with all of us this Father’s Day.
I. Take Care of Yourself – You are one of My Precious Children
– Psalm 8
One of the things that we realize as we read God’s Word is that we human beings are very unique and special. We are different than anything around us. We are not the same as the trees, the plants, the insects, the birds, and the fish of the sea or the animals that live on the land.
Oh, we may have some similarities but in the most important things we are not the same. That most important thing of course is that we were made in the image of God. We were made to be One with God. We were made to co-exist with God and be creators.
We were not made by accident. We are not a fluke of nature. We were purposely and wonderfully made.
The Psalmist reminds of this fact with these words:
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands and have put all things under his feet. All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” - Psalm 8:3-8
The writer of Genesis puts it even more clearly:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness.” – Genesis 1:26
“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created Him, male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27
We are different than the rest of creation; even the creation of the angels and heavenly beings that inhabit heaven. While they are glorious and wonderfully made they were not created as we were created. We have been formed by God in His image and the very breath that we breath is God breath.
No other being has the ability to create with His words like God created with His words in the beginning. No other being can be filled with God’s Holy Spirit as we can be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
We have been given the power to bring order out of chaos even as God brought order out of chaos in Genesis 1:1-2.
We have been given the ability to rule over the planet and have been given the mandate to create, to multiply and to make our earth look like Eden. Potentially through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we humans have that power, that majesty and that honor.
We are not God but we are not exactly nothing either.
Now, of course many would want to remind me that we (human beings) have sinned and that we have fallen short of the glory of God. That too many times we find people living lower than the animals around us than where God wants us to live.
Yes, this is true. But that life is not what God wants for us or created for us to live. God created us to live, act and be like Him. God put Himself in us for us to be able to enjoy Him, ourselves, one another and all of creation.
God does not want us to look down on ourselves. That is even more true if we have been born again; if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and LORD.
Many of us have heard the phrase – I am just a sinner saved by grace.
Yes, it is true that we all have been born in sin and are therefore a sinner. But we must balance that with the rest of the sentence – saved by grace. That saved by grace transforms everything.
This morning, if you have been born again you are not a sinner. You are a rescued and redeemed child of God and you are being restored into the very image of God as you grow in grace and walk in and by His Holy Spirit.
As Jesus reminds us in John 17:15 – 17
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the Evil One. They (us) are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
This morning – let’s take our Heavenly Father’s first piece of advice – don’t see yourself as someone who is worthless, full of guilt and sin. No, allow Jesus to help you see yourself as a person who has been rescued and redeemed. Allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and help you focus on that which is positive rather than that which is negative.
And above all remember that in God’s eyes you are a masterpiece and that you are precious in His eyes.
Ephesians 2:10 - New Living Translation
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
1 Peter 2:9 - English Standard Version
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the Excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
II. Live Life to It’s Fullest – Live the Abundant Life My Son Jesus Made Possible for You – John 10:10
From the very beginning the LORD created us to enjoy His Good Earth. We were created to enjoy our lives here on His Good Earth. We were created to be in harmony with Him, with ourselves, with others and with all of creation. We were destined to create a world that would reflect God’s honor and glory.
Not everyone wants us to enjoy that type of life. The Devil wants us to be miserable. We must always remember that he is a thief, a liar and a murderer. His desire is for us to hate our life here on this earth. He wants us to curse God for our sufferings and then commit suicide. His desire is for us to reject God and to live an impoverished life. His desire is for us to be enslaved to sin.
Thank the LORD we are not condemned to that type of life. We can instead listen to God’s Only Son (God’s Anointed One) who tells us in John 10:10-11:
“The thief (the Devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:10-11
Jesus went on to say that He would send the Holy Spirit who would be able to guide us in all truth (John 16:13), enable us to be One with God (John 17:11) and enjoy the same joy that He, the Father and Holy Spirit have shared forever (John 17:13).
This morning, we do not have to be miserable. In fact, we do our Heavenly Father a disservice when we choose to live below the level of living that He has made possible through His Son Jesus Christ and through His Holy Spirit.
The Abundant Life is ours for the living.
We are called by God to do whatever we can to improve our health, our minds, our emotions and our station in this life.
We are called by God to understand our unique personalities and the gifts that God has given each one of us so that we might better enjoy our life here on earth.
We are called by God to focus not on where we have been but on where we are going.
God put us here on His Good Earth to enjoy His Good Earth.
That means we are to enjoy both the sunshine and the rain.
We are to enjoy all of creation – the trees and plants, the birds and the animals and the totality of God’s amazing creation.
We are to enjoy the creeks and rivers and oceans.
We are to enjoy life – back yard BBQ’s, sports games, shopping, eating out or just sitting quietly on the porch allowing the wind to blow all around us.
We are to enjoy our work – whether it be in the office, around the home or outside mowing the yard, tending to the garden or walking the dog.
This morning, I believe too many people not only are not still enough to enjoy God (Psalm 46:10) but they are also not still enough to enjoy life; to enjoy their family, their friends, their children or their grandchildren.
This week, make yourself take some time to stop and enjoy life. Take some time off and live out the life that Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. Read again the words of Matthew 6:25 – 33 and allow them to come alive in your life:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Years ago there was a young man named Nicholas Herman. The first 26 years of Nicholas’ life were chaotic, disorderly and dangerous. In order to escape poverty Nicholas joined the army and ended up fighting against the Germans in the Thirty Year War where he was wounded and taken prisoner. They even threatened to hang him thinking he was a spy.
Thankfully, Nicholas survived the whole ordeal and was able to return to his home where he lived with his parents until he found employment as a valet.
It did not take him long to realize that being a valet was not for him. Tired of life and feeling like he needed a radical change in life he decided that he would join a monastery and live the rest of his life as a semi-hermit. He even changed his name taking on the religious name of Lawrence of the Resurrection (later he went by the simple name - Brother Lawrence). His main tasks were to take care of the monks by working in the kitchen and later on by mending their sandals.
After being at the monastery for a while Bro. Lawrence began to find healing for his mind, his heart and his soul. He began to wonder what would happen if he invited God to live the whole day with him. He wondered what would happen if while he was washing the dishes and doing his other normal tasks he invited God to do them with him. What would happen if he did his best to stay continually in God’s Presence?
What he found out was that not only did his day go better but God’s Presence gave Him new strength and vitality. He discovered that the God who had rescued him and redeemed him was the same God who wanted to spend each day with him.
So, he and God worked in the kitchen. He and God prepared the meals. He and God washed the pots and pans. He and God swept the floors and did other duties together. He and God talked to people. He and God did everything together.
Over the years this intimate relationship that he wanted so bad with God made such a transformation in his life that the monks began seeking his advice on spiritual matters. It wasn’t long until word got out that there was something rather special about Bro. Lawrence. In no time others started coming to the monastery to seek his advice.
Even though Bro. Lawrence still had a rather rough exterior there was something about his character and mannerisms that drew people to him. He would lovingly and patiently share his love for Christ with them. He even ended up writing down what would become one of the greatest Christian books of the 17th century – The Practice and Presence of God.
Bro. Lawrence was transformed by the LORD. He went from being a young man who wanted nothing more than to get away from everyone to becoming a man who learned how to live the Abundant Life. He became a man who not only influenced his contemporaries but through his writings has influenced millions of people down through the years that include the likes of John Wesley, A. W. Tozer and Hannah Whitall Smith through his writings.
Jesus promises all of us that we can live an Abundant Life. A life filled with His Presence and Power. A life that even as it endures the valleys and the mountain tops can be one filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We need to always remember that:
It was not by accident that God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where they could enjoy life to its fullest.
It was not by accident that Jesus’ first miracle took place at the celebration of a wedding where there was an abundance of good food, drink, laughter and love.
It is not by accident that we read in the book of Revelation about the upcoming Marriage Supper of the Lamb that is filled good food, drink, fellowship and love to its fullest.
When Jesus told His disciples that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life those were not idle words.
Jesus wants us to enjoy life to its fullest; now and forever more.
Because when we enjoy life in Jesus to its fullest we are ready to take our Heavenly Father’s last bit of advice:
III. Together, Let’s Make Our World a Better Place – Matthew 6:10; Matthew 28:18-20
Let’s bring Heaven to Earth.
You and I live in fascinating times. We live in high quality times. We live in exciting times.
I think we would all agree this morning that there is a great deal that could be better in our world. But we also would have to agree that there is a great many things that are going well in our world.
For example, did you know?
+For the first time over half of the people living today are no longer at the edge of poverty but are now considered global middle class citizens.
+Over 85% of our world is now living in is what is called an emerging market – meaning that life for billions of people is getting better and better.
+ Life threatening diseases like small pox, measles, mumps, polio and elephantiasis have either been eradicated or are very close to being eradicated worldwide.
+We are going on 70+ years since there has been a global war – that is no small feat.
+More and more people have access to better medical services, educational opportunities, housing situations and clean water.
+In 1900 there were 580 million Christians – today there are over 2.4 billion
The fact is things are better today than they have ever been in spite of the problems we still face.
However, if you listen to some circles in the Church it is all gloom and doom. They tend to focus on the negative of what is happening around our world.
Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a lady and we were sharing about the things going on in our world. We both agreed that there are some things that desperately need some attention. However, her overall response was – “Come Quickly Lord Jesus. Come quickly”.
You see, her mindset is this – she believes that things are going to get worse and worse. She believes that he world is in a downward tail spin. She believes that there is nothing we can do about it so the only hope is that we just sit and wait for Jesus’ Return.
In the Early Church we see both of these mindsets at work:
+There were some in the Early Church that just wanted Jesus to come back as soon as possible. They didn’t believe that things were going to get better. We see some of this mindset in the Church at Thessalonica.
+Others wanted Jesus to come back as soon as possible but also understood that the Holy Spirit had been given to them to transform the world. They understood that if they fulfilled the Great Commission it would be a world changer. They believed that in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit they would be able to cast out demons, bring healing and wholeness to those who were sick and literally transform the world from the inside out.
We see this thought taking hold in the ministries of the Apostle John, James, Paul, Peter and many others.
They didn’t deny that under Roman Rule the lives of Christians were in danger. They didn’t deny that under Roman Rule while some things were getting better a great many more things surrounding their existence were getting worse.
But inside of them there was this belief that if they would allow the Holy Spirit to guide them that they would be able to transform the world. They would be able to “Christianize” the Roman Empire. Many of them gave up their lives to make that happen and in less than 300 years after Jesus’ Resurrection it was happening. The Roman Empire turned into the Holy Roman Empire with the Church leading the way.
For hundreds of years the Church believed that through the power of the Holy Spirit they would be able to bring about Jesus’ Second Coming. They believed that they would be able to so transform the world, so rid the world of sin and disease that they would be able to usher Jesus’ return as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
That is one reason why the Church for centuries did so much missionary work. They knew that the only way for the world to change was for the Church to get into the muck and mire of daily life and transform it from the inside out.
It has only been since WWI that we have seen a shift in the Church from believing that it could transform the world to believing that the world was too far gone. It has only been for the past 100 years or so that we have decided to sit on the sidelines and allow the world to drift on by.
This morning, we need to always remember that only the Father knows when He is going to send the Son. It could be today or it could be years from now.
What is of ultimate importance is what we are doing right now as we wait. I believe that the LORD wants us to:
+Understand that He loves us and wants the best for all of us – We are His Masterpieces; we were created in His image to give Him glory and honor.
+We are to live our present lives the best we know how; we are to enjoy this Good Earth, we are to enjoy the life we have here, enjoy our families and friends and enjoy the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives right now.
+We are to do our best to make this present earth look like, smell like and feel like Heaven.
How can we do that? How can the church universal and the church local do that?
1. By simply stop sinning – simply doing our best to be as close to the LORD as possible by reading His Word and living out that Word in our everyday lives.
2. Telling the truth and living out a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life. Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us from the inside out.
3. Reaching out to those who are in trouble – socially, emotionally, financially and spiritually – reaching out to help them experience Jesus first hand. Reveal to them what it really means to be a Christ-follower. Help them to live the best life possible on this earth.
4. Being a blessing to others – through our words, our actions, our welcoming nature and through our resources. Being positive agents of change as we do everything we can to lift others up.
As we read the Bible this is exactly what we see being done in the Early Church
+Timothy’s life in the Bible was made better by Paul. Paul took the time to pour his life into Timothy.
+Paul’s life in the Bible was made better by Barnabas. Barnabas took the time to pour his life into Paul.
+The disenfranchised people in Joppa were made better by Dorcas. She took the time to pour her life into people that needed help.
All of this leads us to ask ourselves some very important questions:
Today, whose life is being made better by our personal walk with Jesus?
Today, whose lives are being encouraged and strengthen by our personal walk with Jesus?
Those are some tough questions for us to examine today and throughout the next few days and weeks.
While we reflect on those things and do our best to live a life that makes not only our own individual life better but the world better as well - let’s accept the advice of our Heavenly Father:
1. Let’s take care of ourselves – let’s do our best to understand who we are – we are rescued and redeemed children of God. We are born again believers. We are infilled with His Holy Spirit. We are invited to walk in the Spirit daily.
2. Let’s enjoy life to its fullest – let’s enjoy our walk with the Lord, with ourselves and with others around us. Let’s enjoy the good things of creation and let’s live the Abundant Life that Jesus made for us.
3. Let’s do our best to help create Heaven here on this earth. There is no demon, no devil that can stand up to our Jesus. Through the power and presence of His Holy Spirit we are promised that the very gates of Hell are powerless. With that in mind let’s do our best to help our family, friends, our work places, the place that we play or visit look more like Heaven than Hell.