Series XI-Rev. John Klemin
How You Can Enjoy Your Heavenly Father
Someone told how as a boy he got the wrong idea about the Gospel. He had been told it was good news, but he could not quite understand that. The preacher he heard always seemed to be criticizing or scolding people. He said, “I had the feeling when I went to church I was going to take a whipping. I always thought the good news was for the good people until I was in high school and heard it was for sinners.”
In the Bible we read,
“Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds” (Psalm 149:1-5).
Does not this sound like a joyful, happy relationship between God and His children? This is the way it can be and ought to be. The great need of this hour is for a revived and joyful church. That exuberant joy of the early Christians in their Lord was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity. This joy is contagious. Many Christians may leave the impression that to be a Christian means to be unhappy, sad and morbid and to be perpetually in the doldrums. For this reason, some do not want to be a Christian.
It is not difficult to understand why some are not enjoying their heavenly Father, when they have not known what it is to enjoy an earthly father. One man told me some time ago that he had been raised in an atmosphere of fear. He described his father as the hell-fire and brimstone kind of dad and that is all he can remember about home. Consequently, it has affected his relationship to His heavenly Father. We learn so much about God from our parents. One of the worst tragedies is when parents tell their children, “If you are naughty, God won’t love you.” I am glad that even when we make mistakes and when we sin, God goes on loving us. He corrects us. He disciplines us. But His love is seen through it all. I have two daughters who are now married; but through the years of childhood and since, they have thoroughly enjoyed their dad and mom. In a home there can be respect and yet enjoyment. There can be rules and yet enjoyment. There can be serious times of praying and crying together and also times of laughing together. It is no sin to laugh; just laugh at the right times and at the right things. Many of you are familiar with the story of the prodigal son related to us in the Bible in Luke chapter 15. Many sermons have been preached about him and his wandering away from father into the far country. But how many messages have you heard about his elder brother who remained at home? If I were to rewrite his testimony, it would read something like this:
Here is a model of faithfulness. Or may I call it that? He never ran away from home. He never got into drugs. He never played around with sex. He never left the church.
But he had a terrible attitude. He did not love nor enjoy his father. He did not love nor enjoy his brother.
You see, friend, it is possible to be lost at home yes, even in the home church. You may never leave the church. You may keep all the rules. You may hold to high standards. You may listen to or even preach holiness messages. You may be hardworking, thrifty and decent and yet be completely unchristian in your attitudes and concern for others. With all your righteousness, you may lack the real joy, happiness, peace, love and righteousness of the Holy Spirit. You are simply out of touch with Father.
There are attitudes that kill; then there are attitudes that kindle a right relationship with God and His family! How does a bad attitude show up?
A bad attitude will show up in self-righteousness. Do you see yourself as the good guy in the white hat, and the prodigal as the villain? The fact that he has returned to Father’s house in repentance is beside the point to you. Note the words of the elder brother to his father after his brother came home:
`. .this thy son.. .which hast devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf” (Luke 15:30).
He did not even acknowledge him as his brother. One characteristic of self-righteousness is that it never offers forgiveness. To forgive a scoundrel is to allow him to become your equal your brother. Some within the church can never bring themselves to this point to forgive those who have lived waywardly.
A bad attitude will manifest itself in self-pity.
“Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gayest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:29).
Notice the feeling of being mistreated the feeling that faithfulness has gone unnoticed and unrewarded the feeling that the sinful get along better than the righteous. How often we forget that the father’s acceptance of one son does not mean his rejection of the other.
This bad attitude in a believer will show up in resentments. The elder brother in Luke 15 resented his calf being eaten. He resented the attention of his father toward the wayward son.
The elder brother’s bad attitude showed up in a lack of real fellowship with the father and his family. He had never discovered the real joys and blessings of sonship. He may have even secretly thought he missed something himself by not going to the far country as his brother had done. It is easy to condemn sin in our testimony or from a pulpit and yet secretly feel we have missed out on a lot of fun ourselves by not having had our own fling. His bad attitude showed up in a loss of vision. His world shrank. No missionary spirit shows up here. The elder brother in reality eliminated his father just as much as the prodigal who left home. Although living at home, he had lost sight of the beauties, the joys, the blessings of home and of being in the father’s house. So often, those who have never left the home or church live oblivious to the beauties, the songs, and the joys all around them. Could I be talking to some of you right now? You no longer see the mystery of the stars, the beauty of the sunset or the silence of the snow.
A bad attitude shows up in unhappiness. We stay at home but grumble within ourselves about it. We talk about the injustice of life that seems to reward the sinful and ignore the righteous. You are saying, “All my life I’ve done the right thing, but I haven’t found any meaning or joy in it. What can I do about my bad attitude and enjoy my heavenly Father?”
First of all, you need to establish a right relationship with the Father. Simply give yourself to God. Quit withholding yourself from the Father. You will discover that your major goal in your life is not to fatten calves but to enjoy the Father’s presence and home. Keeping the rules is not enough. You need the Spirit of the Father. When the father asked the elder brother to join the party, he states, “All that I have is thine.” But you will note the son did not respond, “All that I have is thine.” The happiest people in the world are those who give generously and that includes giving generously of oneself to God. Secondly, you need to give yourself to your brother in genuine forgiveness. Our self-righteousness is destroyed when we forgive and accept the transgressor as an equal. The truth of the matter is that we may have some confessing to do ourselves. Could it be that we are part of the reason for the wayward leaving
home? Can’t you just see that elder brother, as those boys were growing up, constantly correcting, scolding and tattling on his younger brother?
Thirdly, you need to give yourself to the Father’s provision and feast. Do not stand on the outside casting a shadow on the joys and thrills on the inside. The father said,
“It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32).
Carl Olson tells how he discovered in himself the spirit of this elder brother, how he realized that all his life he had somehow felt “unblessed,” unaccepted by his own father and by God. At last, in his spiritual pilgrimage he came to the place where he could discover the joy of knowing that he had been saved by the grace of God. With that he also came to the realization that he no longer had to try to be someone he could not be in order to be accepted by God. He realized God loved him as he was, that he could be himself. So he said he took the elder brother he found within himself and buried him in the fields, washed and changed his clothes, combed his hair and entered the Father’s house where there was music and dancing.
Oh, yes, my friend, there is a place of serving the Lord with gladness, of delighting yourself in the Lord. If there is a communication breakdown between you and the Lord, you will not enjoy Him until the lines of communication are restored. And the problem is not on the part of our heavenly Father. It is on our part. He has not stopped loving us or extending His forgiveness or His willingness to help us. Some of you are not enjoying your heavenly Father because of misunderstandings and misconceptions about Him.
Search the Bible, God’s Word, to come to know Jesus Christ as the Almighty God, to come to know Him as your only Savior.
Perhaps some of you have never experienced the relationship with God that I have been speaking of simply because you have never been a part of His family through spiritual birth. So many are trying to reach God, to find God and to please God through their own efforts. However, Christianity is not what you do for God, but what God has done for you through Jesus Christ. God’s standard is a changed mind and a changed heart, and this can only come through a new birth from above. Jesus spoke to a man by the name of Nicodemus and told him it was necessary for him to be born of water and of the Spirit before he could enter the kingdom of God. You can be born anew today if you will repent of your sins, be baptized in water by immersion in the name of Jesus and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And then just as breath enters the lungs of a new-born babe and he cries out, even so the Holy Spirit will enter your heart; and as a new-born child of God, you will speak forth in other tongues, just as they did in the Bible. You will then know what I am talking about. You will find the Christian life to be a rich relationship with God, not a religious treadmill. You will find it to be joy unspeakable and full of glory. The new birth places you in Jesus Christ. God is your Father. And believe me, you can really enjoy Him!
This sermon comes from the book “Harvestime Guest Pulpit Library” printed by the Word Aflame Press in 1982. This may be copyrighted and may be used for study and research purposes only.