THE LORD’S PRAYER SERMON SERIES 1
June 17-19, 2017
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Psalm 103:8-14
1. By Creation.
2. By Redemption.
3. By Compassion.
Psalm 103:8-14 (NIV 1984) “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever; 10He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
Don’t mess up God’s picture! If you have been a boy going through Confirmation Class with me and I taught you about the Lord’s Prayer you heard me say this. Don’t mess up God’s picture. Here’s how that comes up. The Lord’s Prayer starts with the Address, “Our Father in heaven.” When I begin that lesson I say, “Now boys, some day you’re going to grow up. Some of you may get married. When you are married God may give some of you children. If He does, don’t mess up God’s picture!” You see no matter how foolish people in our foolish world try to make God in their own image, calling Him she or other such nonsense the fact of the matter is when our Lord Jesus taught us to pray He told us to pray to God as Our Father. Here we are on Father’s Day. For some this is a happy day as the father God gave you is doing his sinful best to care for you like God does and that is a good thing. Count your blessings. For some today is a hard day. Maybe you are missing your earthly father as he is now in heaven. For some of you, your father messed up God’s picture. He did not take care of you like he was supposed to. He may have hurt you. Please know this was not God’s will. Every father or future father here needs to understand the privilege and honor we have to help the children of God view God properly as a much better and perfect edition of us. At the same time we need to dread the awful ability we have to mess up God’s picture. You see the Bible makes it very clear. God is our Father in heaven. That phrase that starts the Lord’s Prayer helps when we pray. If we think about it, it makes us bold in prayer and confident of a loving answer.
Let’s see how. God is our Father. First by creation. Do any of you know who is considered the Father of Electricity? It’s not Thomas Edison or Ben Franklin, but a man named William Gilbert. How about the radio we like to listen to? A man named Marconi. Getting more modern, who is considered the father of computing? It’s way before Apple. A man named Charles Babbage. Now a really important one for the kids. Who is the Father of video games? You’re right. Ralph Henry Baer. How many did you get right? These men are all considered the “Father of” because practically speaking they got it going. Kind of sad that few people really give them the credit due, don’t you think? A similar but much worse thing has happened with God. He is the Creator of all. Sadly many don’t give Him the credit He is due. But you and I do. We are happy to know that God is our Father by Creation. He made us. We belong to Him.
God is also our Father by Redemption. Through the prophet Isaiah God said, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Redemption signifies ownership. If you’ve ever taken the time to read the fine print on a coupon you will discover that the coupon actually belongs to the manufacturer who promises to redeem it from the store for the monetary value printed on it. Until the manufacturer buys that coupon back its lost to them. That happened with us and God too. God our Father created us. We belong to Him. But we became lost to Him through sin. Take any relationship you can think of: father/child, husband/wife, friend, work, what ruins those relationships? It’s always the same. Sin. Selfishness. I becomes more important than we. You all know how hard it is to mend a ruined relationship. It took the death of Jesus to buy us back from sin. God paid it, in fact He went ahead with creation knowing that going ahead meant the sacrifice of His Son to redeem us to get us back to Him. That’s the second way we belong to Him and the way He is our Father. Because He redeemed us He says, “You are mine!”
But all of this really hinges on a characteristic of God that explains why He created, why He redeemed, why He continues to put up with us. Compassion. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever; 10He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” In my working Bible, my study bible, I have written a little note, that this is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament. Notice how it focuses our attention on how God so loves. He is more gracious, more giving than any earthly father can be. His patience is perfect as he is slow to anger. You know how dad gets mad when you do wrong or stupid things? God has the right but He gives it up. He doesn’t treat us as we deserve. Two word pictures. As high as the heavens are above the earth. How high is that? One guess is 936 sextillion miles. See if you can get that in your calculator. But God the Father’s love for you is bigger. How far is the east from the west? They never meet. That’s how far God has removed your sins from you. As a father has compassion on his children. Gut check time dads. How are you doing with God’s picture? Do you parent with compassion? It’s needed. We all need it. Why? God knows. He remembers that we are dust.
Unrealistic expectations can cause a world of hurt. When fathers expect their children to do something they are not capable of it frustrates the children, hurts them, makes them feel unloved. Fathers are not to do that. That’s what God meant when He said, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” God doesn’t do that with us. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations. Now wait a minute you might be thinking. Doesn’t He demand that we live perfectly? That’s unrealistic. Yes, He does expect and deserve perfect obedience from us. But remember what He also did. He demands perfect obedience but that gave it to us by having Jesus live in place. We have His obedience. And for our sins, so that He could separate them from as far as the east is from the west, He punished Jesus in our place. This is a perfectly loving Father who does not exasperate His children.
He knows you and me as we really are. Oh, we can come in here with our brave faces and give the standard answer, “Fine” to the expected question, “How are you doing?” but the reality is every single one of us here is broken. We are not fine. We are dust. We have weakness in trust. We have thoughts and deeds we are ashamed of and are glad other people don’t know about. But God knows. We put up a good front like we have it all together but inwardly we face often daily the gut rot of “How do I handle this one?” And God knows. He loves. He watches. He’s like dad running behind his daughter as she rides that bike without training wheels for the first time, letting her go free and feel the scares of a tippy bike but keeping her from any real danger, even though she doesn’t know it of feel like it. God is filled with compassion, a deep care that hurts when we hurt, is joyful over our success, always there when we need Him, sad when we choose to live without Him. You know, a perfect Father.
Now what does this have to do with prayer? It’s motivation. God wants you to know that He is your Father by Creation, by Redemption and by Compassion so that you will pray to him a lot. So that you will pray to Him about everything, big things in life, like sickness or finances and little things like skinned knees and lost phones. He wants you to know that His answer whether it looks like yes or no always comes from love. He wants you to know that whether your earthly father was good or bad with His picture, you can always count on Him and He will always love you. He is your Father in Heaven. Amen.