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  • Mike Durbin

Our Heavenly Father

PLYMOUTH – Of all the words Jesus could have chosen to refer to God, the one he used most frequently was “Father.” We are so accustomed to calling God “Father” that we fail to realize just how revolutionary this was.

According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, God is only referred to as “Father” 15 times in the entire Old Testament. Jesus uses the word “Father” 65 times in the synoptic Gospels and over 100 times in the Gospel of John. It’s not just a way to address God, it’s Jesus’ preferred way for us to think about God.

It is interesting that in prayer Jesus calls God “Father,” but he teaches us to say, “our Father.” Why the difference? By divine nature, Jesus is the eternal son of the Father. God is our Father by adoption when we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. Jesus understands his uniqueness as God’s only begotten Son, but the result is the same - God is his Father and ours. “But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12).

In Matthew 6, Jesus refers to God as Father 12 times - just three times less than the entire Old Testament. This chapter is full of deep spiritual truth, but two truths about the Fatherhood of God emerge to encourage us this Father’s Day.

Our Heavenly Father celebrates us as His children.

As you read through these verses, it is readily apparent that our heavenly Father takes notice of our inner character, and it pleases Him. As His sons and daughters, we are a delight to Him. He sees it in the way we give (vs 1-4), the way we pray (vs 5-13), and the way we fast (vs 17-18).

Some use these same virtues to get noticed by others: Like the person who gives his offering in such a way that it can’t be missed (v 2), or the person who looks for the most public place to parade his piety in prayer (v. 5), or the one who makes it painfully obvious that he is fasting by the distortions of his face and unkemptness of his hair (v 16). Ultimately, the motive is to be seen by others and the reward is the personal gratification received by hearing their applause.

The child of God, on the other hand, gives, prays, and fasts out of the overflow his relationship to Christ. He does so in such a way that it does not draw attention. These acts are done quietly in gratitude for all that Jesus has done for us. They are a part of who we are in Christ. These spiritual disciplines are done for the well-being of others and personal growth. They are about the needs of others being met, the trusting prayer of faith taking root deep in our souls, and spiritual discipline gained by fasting.

Three times Jesus says, “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (vs 4, 6, 18). It’s a beautiful picture of the Heavenly Father taking notice of His sons and daughters as they live out their faith. He sees the very reflection of Jesus in our lives, and it pleases Him. He smiles as He sees the redemptive work of His Son being lived out in the lives of His children. There is applause, not here on earth, but above as our Heavenly Father celebrates the character of His children.

God knows everything about you. He sees you - and is pleased.

Our Heavenly Father meets our every need.

It’s striking how vast God’s provisions are for His children. Jesus wants us to understand that our Heavenly Father is an incredible provider, and that we can turn to Him for our every need. Jesus tells us not to worry 6 times in this chapter because God will take care of us (vs 25, 27, 28, 31, 34).

He wants us to know that God’s provisions are available to us for the asking. We don’t have to worry about life, about food and drink, or what we will wear (verse 25). Worry won’t lengthen our days (v 27) or add clothes to our wardrobe (v 28).

We don’t even have to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself (v 34).

Jesus drives home the point that God meets our needs by turning our attention to the birds soaring in the sky above and the wildflowers growing in the field beyond. God cares for each. Through the rhetorical question Jesus asks, our incredible value to God is declared and His provision for our every need satisfied. “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (vs 33).

Of course, God’s greatest provision for us comes in Christ who gave his life on Calvary for our sins and rose again for our salvation. Because of him, we call God, “our Heavenly Father.”



Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.


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