Why am I HERE? – Because I Have a Heart for the Father

Instrumental: Change My Heart, O God

Say this word with me, “Church.” Now turn to your neighbor. Say the first 3 things you think when you hear church. I’ll wait. … … I hope you said words like Jesus, cross, Bible, love. Whether our member or guest, may these words ring right here. Also: Friendly. Every church says it’s that. Us too. We expect warm greetings, open arms, ready smiles. Let me emphasize by contrast! It’s Father’s Day. So I’ll tell a Dad story. Years ago I made my way from our house to mom and dad’s purposely to surprise them. I arrived to do some unexpected Saturday chores. Likely lawn stuff or trimming bushes. I started in the Kitchen door to announce my magnanimous surprise visit. Dad was hustling out the same door, hurrying somewhere. He almost bowled me over. His greeting, “What in the world are you doing here?!” (Dad was not on his way to sensitivity training!) I remember this for two reasons. One, I resolved never to do the same. Two, I have made exactly this error, with Meghan and Micah! Ooops! Not good!

But maybe the church can borrow the question and yet not offend. Every now and then maybe all church folks ought to ask each other, “What are you doing here?” Really. The goal ought to be to get us to ask ourselves, “Why am I here?” Last week we said it was because we have a practical need for the Book. The Bible. That’s true. But let’s go deeper today! Can we answer, you and I, we are here because we have a heart for the Father?

A heart for the Father. Ay, that’s the thing. Do you really want to know the Father? Be careful how you answer on this special Father’s Day. See, this could change you, forever! [Corey]

Refrain: Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.

Change my heart O God, may I be like you.

You are the potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me, that is what I pray. Refrain

Have we a heart for a Father whose heart is filled… with us? ‘For a Father who has his heart set on deliverance? ‘For a Father God who will use everything and excuse nothing, even in us, that would deny him the glory and honor we were born to share, literally! This is good news, but not always easy.

Atop your bulletin, 8th Psalm words we paraphrase. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouths of babes and infants, you’ve built up a solid wall against your detractors and unbelievers alike. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars you flung on the sky, why on earth do you bother with us, much less take a second look at us or our children? Yet you have made us little less than yourself, and you insist on crowning us with glory and honor. You have even given us dominion, power; yes, authority, over the works of your hands!” It seems quite clear. God’s own heart is just filled… with us. (Though not us alone.) If you are a dad, or granddad, naturally or by any kind of adoption or extension, you remember the feeling of holding/beholding your little one(s) for the first time ever. ‘And of looking in those eyes-like-deep-wells-waiting-to-be-filled-with-wonders and saying, “From now on, this is what I’m all about. This is what I’m for!” Maybe at the hospital. ‘Or at the agency. ‘Or the ball-diamond you-saw-to-it was created. ‘Or in the Sunday School class you’ve taught, or across the tables you lugged at church for some special event. However it has been for you, with that pang that pried open your heart, you have felt a fleeting moment of what Scripture over-and-over portrays as God’s heart for us. (Ladies, you know this too, but we already had your day!)

[Hillary] Refrain: Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.

Change my heart O God, may I be like you.

You are the potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me, that is what I pray. Refrain

Oh, do you really want a heart like such a God? Because if you do, there are things you need to know… Such a heart is relentless in love. The Bible calls it steadfast! Are you ready? Some of us have had a long way to go. Another Father’s Day contrast. I recall our first born’s first night home. How we’d waited for this. (Especially after a little problem had put his coming home in doubt.) A great afternoon first. Then the crying started. And stayed! 3 AM. The shine of new parenthood dulled. I volunteered to take the baby to my study while Beverly slept. By 5 AM I was done, brought him back across the hall to his mom. But I had to pass the head of the stairs. Him crying (still), those stairs pointing downward. Hmm. It was tempting. It was just the first night! I persevered. Do know, to your relief. God’s heart is not ephemeral, fleeting, flickering. He’s been through that apple off the tree with us, the garden-hiding, the sinning-that-floods-the-earth, the muttering-in-the-wilderness-after parting-the-waters and the-golden-idol-in-the-valley-while-he-was busy-carving-commandments on the mountain. Still, he never cast us down the stair, nor let it cross his mind.

God’s are high expectations and low exceptions. Though we may challenge (and we often do), God will not budge. We disappoint. We anger our Heavenly Father, just like our fathers-near-at-hand. Yet this Father distinguishes discipline from punishment. ‘Godly pique from righteous indignation. The Proverb is right that says,
“Just as a father punishes a son-he-delights-in to make him better, so the Lord corrects you. (3: 12)” It is right to know that the Lord corrects, not just for punishment but for righteousness’ sake. To desire a heart for God is to know that God’s judgments are absolute. We do not worship a “let it slide” God. And yet, to come to this Father is to come to One whose “will is ever directed to his children’s good.” Are we willing to say and sing to such a God?…

[Parts] Refrain: Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.

Change my heart O God, may I be like you.

You are the potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me, that is what I pray. Refrain

Our Father has his heart set on deliverance. On what are you willing to set your heart…. for yourself, those you know and love, and especially those you don’t? Are you willing to pray like David? … “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Put a new, right spirit within me. Don’t cast me away from your presence, or take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Sustain in me a generous spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners will return to you! Deliver me, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise!” Ps. 51.

Enter… Jesus! Desire a heart for God and we require a heart for Jesus. Jesus is the evidence above all other evidence that God has his heart set on deliverance. Time after time, beginning to end, Jesus’ heart is as God’s, bent on deliverance. At 12 in the temple, “I must be about my Father’s business.” His first public sermon, brief, but brave for deliverance. Let me quote the whole sermon, word for word. “Today, this Scripture comes true.” That’s it. The text: good news to the poor, light to the blind, mending for the broken, lifting for the lowly, The Lord’s own Day! Deliverance! All those healings. The warnings, not just to condemn but to convert: woe to you who do/say all the holy stuff (tithing every mint and rue), but don’t do the will of God. (To love justice, do kindness, walk humbly with God.) The stories: the Father who runs to the wayward child to forgive and restore. The Samaritan helper. Joy in heaven at 1 sinner home, cf. 100 righteous folk. The parables in action: forgiving those “caught in the act,” Palm Sunday’s parade promising peace with heaven, temple tables tumbling for a clean place to pray. On and on could we go.

But let’s stop here. Have you a heart for a Father who will use everything (even his precious Jesus), excuse nothing (not even the cross or the grave), that we may share his glory? The glory we were made for! Jesus himself still explains (Jn. 14), “Have I been with you so long, and yet you still don’t know me…? ‘See me, you’ve seen the Father! Don’t you believe: I’m in the Father and the Father in me? ‘I’m tellin’ you straight, believe in me and you’ll also do the works I do… and greater… because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I’ll do it, so the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you love me, keep my commandments.” Everything in, nothing out, to deliver us to glory… walking again in the garden. Thorns, counted in. Nails, not left out. Grave clothes, good to go. Rolling rocks, not beyond the possible. The heart of God in Jesus Christ cannot be entombed for long. (Three days, max!)

Why are we here? Pray… because we have a heart for the Father, a will to be like him in Christ. A heart filled… with his children, set on deliverance, all in, for the sake of the place God has saved for us with Our Father.

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