Sunday 20 June
Link coming shortly
Celebrate Your Father
Deuteronomy 6 verses 4-9
I was blessed in life by having a really good father. Not everyone can say that. Of course, my father was not perfect and just like him I try to be a good father, but I am not perfect. Yet when we become Christians, we are given a perfect Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and has good plans for us – The very best plans for us.
It is amazing the good things He wants for us but we sometimes need to be corrected and disciplined too when we go our own way when it is contrary to the way God wants us to go.
Christians believe in One God, but we understand Him as revealing Himself through the concept of three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. The Hebrew in Deuteronomy 6 literally says ‘God is one’ meaning HE is the one true God; He is complete, unlike the false gods who only have specific functions, e.g., the sun god, the harvest god etc., and they often need to be appeased. Our one true perfect God gives us free choice but provides the manual for us to live by for our greatest benefit.
Perhaps on Father’s Day it brings back memories – good or bad or both. We never chose who our fathers or mothers would be, unless perhaps if we were adopted. Yet Father’s Day always falls on a Sunday, the day of rest, and every Sunday is our Father God’s Day of rest which He gifts to us. So, we often celebrate our Father’s Day with a gift, sharing a meal with Him, and telling him we value and love him usually along with other family members.
It clearly follows then that each Sunday, on the pre-assigned Sabbath Day of rest we ought to meet with our Heavenly Father bringing a gift, having a meal of some spiritually nourishing food with Him and all His children in church and telling Him we love Him.
That’s where Deuteronomy 6:5 comes into our minds. “And you shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”.
Before we can love God, we need to come to understand what He is like and to meet Him personally.
The names of Old Testament books always mean something that describes an important facet of the book it is named after. Deuteronomy means My people listen and hear. As we listen to God speak, often through His holy words we come to see what He is like. The Listening here is active and attentive, with eagerness to hear and understand and to learn from it.
In order that we can live by God’s ways, we need to hear and understand what those ways are. God instructs and commands us to live rightly. So, as we listen, we can learn how to be obedient to God.
Obeying our earthy father shows respect, but obeying our Heavenly Father shows faith and love in action.
He is the one and only true God and nothing should therefore be placed ahead of Him in our lives if we truly love Him.
In essence we have an obligation to love God because He is one, complete, perfect Father of us all. We are to love with “all our heart” The Hebrew word here lebab means our innermost being or inner self. It speaks of our identity and our identity ought to love the one true God who gives us life and is rooting for us to live out our one life well.
It involves our will and mind-setting so that our character is set to love our God.
We are to love God with “all our soul” this love for God is holistic, all of who we are, including the spiritual person within each of us. The Hebrew word for soul is nepes it means breath in the sense that to live spiritually we need to breathe. God breathed life into us Genesis 2:7, literally life blood, we need to live with that life breath which includes this spiritual connection too. This is why God shed His own life blood as the sacrifice for sin to save our souls.
And we are to love God “with all your might” with all our power and strength in abundance. i.e. the best of it.
Effectively it says we are to love God with all He has gifted us with, our talents, our energy, every resource we have and bring glory to the one who deserves all the glory.
The Son of God, Jesus said this is the greatest commandment, “our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:28
Deuteronomy 6:6 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Written indelibly. They are to be at the core of who you are, and not just some enforced ruling.
If we do that, then obviously we would want what’s best for our children too. verses 7-9 “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”.
The Hebrew word translated here as impress sanan means engrave or sharpen these words into. This is why children’s work is vital in churches and in Christian families. It is also vital in new Christians too for they are now part of God’s family among us.
It is not brainwashing; it is grounding our children in the best possible foundations. Let’s make sure we never relegate children’s work to a lower place when it clearly should have a central place.
This is likely to be one of the reasons why the church in our land is in great decline. We never “taught our children diligently” with the scriptures and in turn they were not persuaded to love God and therefore failed to pass it on to succeeding generations.
Of course, it is more complicated than that: some children and adults reject God – that is our core problem as humans – we relegate God rather than give Him His rightful place. I guess what turns people away from God as well as their inherent human nature is when they witness bad Christian behaviour. That is what verse 7 is getting at “and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way”
What does God want from us then?
2 Corinthians 6:18: "And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
Its Father’s Day and each Sabbath is our Heavenly Father’s Day. God wants us to call Him dad, to value and love Him for His protection, blessings and love.
May we all give Him His rightful place in our lives every day, but especially on Father’s Day amen