Everlasting Father

  • Everlasting Father
  • Isaiah 9:6
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • December 17, 2017
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12-18-17 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Here at LakeRidge, as we progress through the season of Advent, we are looking at some of the Old Testament prophecy names that were given to Jesus some 700 years before he was ever born. Remember that the time in which these names are given is a turbulent and troublesome time. There is incredible conflict and strife for people. In many ways, it was a time like the days we find ourselves living in today when it comes to world affairs.

 

Isaiah 7:14, “The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”

 

If there has ever been a day and time that we need to know that God is with us it is today. What an amazing thing to know that God would send his Son, Jesus Christ to be with us in the midst of this life that we lead.

 

But more than just simply telling people that the Messiah would come to be God with them, God has the Old Testament writers prophesy about specific names that will be given to Jesus, names that have incredible meaning to them. Hear this passage from the Prophet Isaiah…

 

Isaiah 9:6, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

During this time leading up to Christmas we are exploring each of these names for Jesus – Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This morning we are focusing on Everlasting Father.

 

All of a sudden Jesus revealed to us as another Father in our life, and just that word “Father” begins to elicit images and memories and emotions begin to churn up in us, and maybe for you the memories and the images of your earthly father were fantastic.  Maybe your dad was great, and when you think about him you have great memories.

 

I can tell you this as a father myself, and I think I speak for all of us dads, it is not easy being a dad.  We are far from perfect, and we make our share of mistakes.  If you grow up and you look back on your father, and the memories that you have are good ones – be thankful.  What more could we ask for as a dad?

 

But reality is, not all of us who are gathered here today have those kind of memories about our fathers. It is important that we acknowledge that as well.

 

No matter if you had a father who was good, but not perfect, or a father who wasn’t who he needed to be for you, most of us tend to project the image our our earthly fathers onto Jesus as our Everlasting Father.

 

As a father what scares me is if I blow it and my kids grow up thinking that Jesus is just like dad. When we do that, when we project on to Jesus and we look through the lens of our earthly father and we see our Everlasting Father as just like that, it can be a very dangerous thing to do because all of the sudden things get foggy and we don’t see Him very clearly.

 

We look at Jesus, our Everlasting Father, through the lens of our earthly father, and for many of us when we do that and we look through that lens of our earthly father we just may see a father who’s never satisfied.

 

For example, let’s say that the words, “I love you,” and “I am proud of you,” maybe they were illusive to you as a child.  Like a carrot on a stick, you just couldn’t get them, and your dad never said that and somehow you began to just be perfect for dad because you so coveted his acceptance and affirmation, but it was never there.

 

Maybe you even went to the point of rebellion to get dad’s attention, and now, you’ve taken that same perspective and bring it into your relationship with Christ.

 

Maybe you don’t really believe that God is truly satisfied with you so you try to do what you can to get Him to love you.  When you look at your Everlasting Father through the lens of your earthly father, not only do you see a father who’s never satisfied, but when you look at Him through the lens of your earthly father, you might see a father who’s always angry.

 

Maybe when dad was home from work it was like walking on eggshells around your house.  You were whispering all of the time so as not to disturb him.  It’s busy, because you know dad at any moment can fly off the handle and start yelling and full of anger.  Maybe your dad said words to you like, “You’re never going to amount to anything.  You’re a loser.  We never meant to have … You’re a mistake.”  It just ripped you up inside.

 

In a group this large statistics tell us that there are a number of you sitting here today who have not only experienced very painful words of anger from your earthly father, but statistics tell us there are several sitting here today that have experienced actions of abuse.  Can I please just tell you how sorry I am that happened to you?

 

You see when we look at Jesus, our Everlasting Father, through the lens of our earthly father, it can really mess things up.  We might see a father who is never satisfied or a father who’s always angry.

 

When we look at Jesus through the lens of our earthly father you might see a father who is seldom there.  Maybe, as a child, you grew up the victim of divorce, and all of a sudden Dad who was there, is now not there.

 

Maybe dad was practically ripped out of your family’s life, and you were forced to grow up without dad being there.  Maybe he missed your first game.  He wasn’t there.  He wasn’t there to sit on the side of your bed with you and put his arm around you when you were crying and needed comfort.

 

I don’t know what your journey has been with your earthly father. Maybe it was wonderful. Maybe it was anything but wonderful. Maybe it was something in between. This morning I want to ask you to do something. Would you be willing to lay down and let God’s word speak to us about who Jesus really is as our Everlasting Father?

 

Because when we look at Jesus, our Everlasting Father, through the lens of Scripture we see an Everlasting Father who is compassionate.

 

Psalms 103:8 states this about Jesus, our Everlasting Father, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”

 

Did you hear that?  He’s compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love.  One of the most liberating moments that I have ever experienced, and that I’ve seen others experience, is that moment when you come to the realization that there is nothing that you can do – not a single thing, zero, zilch, nada – to earn God’s love.  Nothing.

 

Many of you are sitting here today and you’ve had to perform for maybe dad, or for other people, and you’ve performed because you didn’t believe people accepted you, and you’ve taken that same approach into your relationship with Christ, and you’ve been working, man have you been working.

 

You’ve been working it.  You go to church.  You read your Bible.  You pray, not because you’re overwhelmed with the grace of God in your life, but because you feel like you have to do those things, because deep down inside God doesn’t really accept you and love you for who you are.

 

He’s compassionate, and you’ve been working, and you’ve been working, and I want the words of Jesus to speak to you.  Check this out.  He says to those of us who are trying to perform to earn God’s love.  He says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

 

Rest.  Just rest.  Rest.  Stop trying to do everything right.  Live a life that glorifies God, but stop trying to do everything right because you think God doesn’t accept you.  Through your relationship with Christ, He accepts you, and there’s nothing that we can do.  God cannot love you any more or any less than He already does, so just rest.  Just rest.

 

When we look at Him, Jesus, our Everlasting Father, through the lens of Scripture, we are going to see that He is an Everlasting Father who is compassionate.  We are also going to see that He is an Everlasting Father who cares.  This is God speaking to you and me and I want you to feel this, because He is not angry.  He will never abuse you.

 

If your earthly father repeatedly failed you, abused you and/or wasn’t there for you it is easy to become jaded in your thinking. Those experiences you had have formed and shaped you into who you are today and how you experience the world around you. It can’t help, but do so.

 

A few weeks back in our “Games of Life” series one of the sermons dealt with the topic of forgiveness. If you were here that day you’ll remember that my wife, Joni, shared her journey of forgiveness and the healing God has brought to her in overcoming growing up with an abusive father.

 

For Joni a big part of her healing came through a counselor she would meet with when she was still a young girl who imparted to Joni an important truth about who Jesus is as the Everlasting Father. It would become a life verse for Joni and an important passage of Scripture that has become influential time and time again for our whole family over the years.

 

Let me read this and internalize this because this is the truth, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 

When Jeremiah wrote these words it was to a group of people being held captive. They were ripped from their homes and were now living in exile. He was reminding them that although they’re not where they expected, God has not forgotten them. Even amidst this insanely hard situation, God’s plan will stand. As Jeremiah knew very well, God’s plans are always good.

 

So if there’s just one thing I want you to know it’s that Jesus, your Everlasting Father, cares for you, His plans for you are to give you hope, to give you a future, to prosper you.  You might not be where you expected, but it doesn’t mean that God has forgotten you. He is not angry with you.  He loves you as you are, and He cares about you.  If that is all you get, man, you’re halfway home.

 

We look at Him through the lens of Scripture, and we see Jesus, an Everlasting Father, who is incredibly compassionate, caring beyond what we could comprehend.  When we look at Jesus, our Everlasting Father, through the lens of Scripture, we’re going to see an Everlasting Father who’s always there.  Always.

 

Some people fear loneliness or rejection. Some people fear the end of an important relationship. Some people fear their friends will stop liking them while other people fear that their spouse or family members will leave them.

 

This fear of abandonment is something that the psalmist understood. Psalm 27:7-10 reads, “Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! 8My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’ 9Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! 10Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”

 

These are the words of someone who is in a panic that God will leave him. I understand these words and I bet you do too because most of us know what it is, on some level, to fear loneliness or abandonment.

 

So what are we supposed to do in those situation? We should follow the lead of David and speak truth to ourselves. Even if my father and my mother forsake me, earthly relationships break down, sin runs rampant in lives that are not committed to Christ, and sometimes the temptation to leave prevails.

 

However, you can stand firm with the psalmists and proclaim that the relationship you have with God is not the same as human relationships. The Lord, our Everlasting Father, will never leave or abandon us.

 

In the Old Testament, God makes a covenant with Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah and Jeremiah never to leave them. He also communicates through the prophets to speak these words to God’s people.

 

Jesus reminds his disciples of His presence as He commands them to take the gospel to the whole world in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  In Hebrews 13:5 our Everlasting Father reminds us that, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  This is not a word of some random person.  This is the Everlasting Father speaking.

 

Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah was God’s mouthpiece to his people who were in desperate need. More than anything God wanted them to understand that in the midst of life’s challenges that they were not alone, that when the Messiah came he would be known as Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

 

Going one step further, God wanted the people to understand how Jesus was coming to be God with us. One of those ways was as the Everlasting Father.

 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas 2017 in many ways we find ourselves in much the same situation. We need to understand that God is with us and we need to have a clear understanding of what it means to have an Everlasting Father.

 

A father who is compassionate. A father who cares for us. A father who will never abandon or leave you.

 

Hear these words of our Everlasting Father found in Matthew 7:7-11 and know what His heart is toward you this day,  “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”