God is Our Father

Dear Brethren,

Are you a "chip off the old block?"  How much do you resemble your parents?  More importantly, how much do you resemble your loving Father in heaven?  We each say, "I love God."  Do we often stop to think about how much God loves us?  "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..."  (John 3:16)

What a price our loving Father paid for all mankind - the life of His Son!  We are supposed to love as God loves - but human love comes far short.  Learning to love others, with a Godly love, is probably the greatest challenge confronting Christians.  The way God established the human family, we are nurtured and loved from the day we are born.  For the most part, we grow up being loved and having our needs provided by family, friends and society.

So much is literally handed to us that we can easily slip into the mindset of expecting more and more from others.  We expect our parents to provide for us and to help us in life.  We expect education, jobs, and employment opportunities.  We expect the Church and the ministry to nurture and to feed us.  For many of us, these Godly blessings and gifts of loving nurture have come to be considered "reasonable expectations."

"If you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even that tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."  (Matthew 5:46-48)

We should be most careful not to take God's blessings and gifts for granted.  Do we understand that Godly love is life giving, whereas human love is largely self-serving?   Our attitude of selfishness is the exact opposite of God's generosity.  Our human spirit wars against God's Spirit of love.  Godly love is in accordance with His perfect law.  "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments... By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God..."  (1John 5:3-2)

Brethren, how do we grow beyond just expecting others to love us and to do for us?  God called us out of the world at this time in order for us to learn to love >as He loves.    Jesus Christ Himself told His disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  (John 13:34-35)

Unfortunately, during this time of scattering of the greater Church of God, many of us have seen the barriers go up between brethren.  Brother will not speak to brother and even will avoid, if possible, the chance meeting in a public place.  How is Godly love so misunderstood that some would suggest that brethren in other fellowships are to be disregarded?  That's wrong!  Godly love is just the opposite!  The answer is, if we hold our brother in contempt, whatever his current fellowship, our salvation is in jeopardy.

"But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.  And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22)

Brethren, this might just be the biggest test for the Church of God right now.  How can we leave behind the attitude of contempt, and grow to love our brothers and sisters, no matter which fellowship they find themselves in for the moment?  Remember, when entering the Kingdom of God, we all will stand together with Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives.  We will be one wife to Christ, one family of God.  We need to be working toward this end - Jesus taught it.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'   But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."  (Matthew 5:43-45)

We must learn to pray diligently for others - in the Church and out of the Church.  Whether the person is a brother in our fellowship, a sister in another fellowship, or perhaps even a "problem" colleague at work, we must learn to pray for that person.  In learning to pray for others, we learn to love them.  Their problems become our problems, and we come to see the individual, struggling in life with his own problems, as a person who needs God's mercy as much as we do.   When we pray for their success, we learn to truly love and cherish them.  We begin to become a little like our loving Father.

Some of our more challenging prayers involve those who have hurt us personally.  Full reconciliation with every individual may not be possible at this time.  Before trying to rebuild their relationship, the father of the prodigal son had to wait until his son repented, or "came to himself" (Luke 15:17).  If we have been praying for their well-being, we will be able to readily overlook the sins of the past.

Praying for others is the first step in learning to love them with a Godly love.  Let us go beyond just praying for those mentioned in the prayer requests.  Let us learn to pray for all of God's called out ones.  "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."  (Galatians 6:10)

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."   (1John 3:14) May our loving Father bless His people abundantly, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Sermon:  "God is Our Father"