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Who We Worship: Our Heavenly Father

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers! As I was in worship this morning, and the focus of the message was our Heavenly Father, I thought back to conversations I’ve had in the past with those who have a more liberal view of who or what God is. At the risk of being politically incorrect, or upsetting those who may not agree with what I’m about to say, I think it would be worth my time and this space to explain what I believe the Bible teaches. This is not my opinion; I am just sharing what the words of God tell us.

On the one hand, assigning a singular gender to God may not be the most comprehensive way of understanding who God is. After all, Jesus once said that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) While God did create humans in the image of God, that doesn’t mean God is human (Genesis 1:27). Yet, in that same passage in Genesis that refers to humans in the image of God, it specifically mentions male and female. So I don’t believe it is anti-Biblical to recognize characteristics in God that are typically identified with male and female. For example, Jesus exhibited a motherly affection for the people of Jerusalem when he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)

All that being said, I don’t believe there are any direct references in the Bible that refer to God as a woman. However, there are many references to two members of the trinity as male.

Jesus, of course, took the form of a human male while he was on earth. And numerous references to Jesus, by himself and others around him, referred to Jesus as a son – Son of God and Son of Man. Two of the most clear and compelling references are God the Father (we’ll get to that next) calling Jesus his son:

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Matthew 17:5

and perhaps the most well known verse in the Bible, in which Jesus is speaking:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Finally, the person of the trinity who is often mentioned first is most commonly known as God the Father. Not because the Bible was written by male chauvinists, or because humans have distorted the words of God over time; the Scriptures (the Bible) were written by humans under the inspiration or direction of the Holy Spirit – the third member of the trinity. (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21) No, we refer to God the Father because God himself used the term.

Jesus referred to this member of the trinity as his father, both in speaking to others (for example: “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.'” – John 5:17) and when speaking directly to God the Father (for example: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39).

Even more, Jesus taught his followers and us that the heavenly Father isn’t just his father by relationship, he is the father of anyone who believes in him:

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…

Matthew 6:9

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

John 20:17-18

There are many other passages of Scripture which refer to God the Father, and not just as the father of Jesus, but as the heavenly father for all who believe. One of the greatest comforts of this truth is that, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a great experience or example of an earthly father, you have a heavenly Father who is perfect, and who loves you more than even the best earthly father can. This is the heavenly Father who is worthy of our worship.


Worship from the Psalms: Psalm 146

The book of Psalms in the Bible is a great source for worship: not only have many hymn and song writers used the psalms as inspiration, but reading through the psalms can be a means of worship in and of itself. They can also teach us about worship.

Today I’d like to focus on one psalm that I think is a great psalm of praise to God, Psalm 146.

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul.

Psalm 146:1 (NIV)

These words, Praise the LORD, come from the original Hebrew Hallelu Yah. Yah is short for Yahweh, often written YHWH in Hebrew because the name of God was considered too holy to write out fully. This specific name for God is often translated “LORD” (all caps), as opposed to “Lord,” which is the translation of the Hebrew name Adonai. I am not a Hebrew scholar, but from what I have studied, Yahweh refers to God’s sovereignty or being almighty, while Adonai refers to God’s lordship, or authority. Regardless, the phrase Hallelu Yah is often used directly from the Hebrew in hymns and worship songs, as “hallelujah” or “allelujah.” And now you know (if you didn’t before) what that term means!

I will praise the LORD all my life;

    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 146:2 (NIV)

I don’t believe this is a suggestion to be constantly singing praise to God, but more of an encouragement to sing praise to God throughout our whole lives.

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Psalm 146:3-5 (NIV)

These verses are an encouragement to not place our trust in earthly leaders (or any human), because all of us humans are fallible – even the wisest of us – and we all will one day die. But God, the God of the Bible, is the only one worthy of our complete trust.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.

Psalm 146:6-10 (NIV)

These last verses of the psalm provide reasons for praising God:

  • God created heaven and earth
  • God provides justice for the oppressed
  • God provides food for the hungry
  • God sets prisoners free
  • God gives sight to the blind (spiritually and physically)
  • God lifts up those who are down
  • God watches over foreigners, and sustains orphans and widows
  • God frustrates the ways of the wicked
  • God is eternal

So, this psalm is not only a great reminder to worship and praise God, but also a great example for how and why we should praise Him.

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