"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." —Anne Sexton

Often people build their view of God on their view of whomever they call father in this life. We need to take a quick step backwards before we move forward, because when I say, "Father," your mind is forming a mental picture based on how you see your own dad. Sometimes this picture is a mosaic of all the fathers you see around you. But are earthly fathers a good picture of your heavenly Father? Is God like them?

It depends.

For some of us, "father" brings up feelings of comfort and security. For others, just hearing the sound of footsteps in the hall outside our bedroom door raises an instinct to try to hide from abuse or violation. You might look back at your father and say, "If God's anything like my old man, I don't want to have anything to do with Him!"

So when we talk about "God the Father," our minds, not our emotions, must dominate. We need to make a clear distinction between our earthly father and our heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible, not our feelings or earthly experiences, to be our guide when we try to figure out what we mean by "God the Father."

Throughout the Bible we find the perfect picture of a perfect father. Moses' request in Exodus was a sincere one:

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you." —Exodus 33:13 (emphasis mine)

In the passages following this request, God reveals no less than fourteen fatherly traits about Himself, each of which is amplified in many other places throughout the Bible. These traits also make a decent model for those of us who are fathers on earth, but they aren't intended to be a guilt trip to try to make us perform better. Instead, they should encourage us all, as God's kids, with the wonderful news of our perfect parent who cherishes, values, and adores us.

Father, I pray that any misconceptions I have about You will be swept away by the truth of Your Word. I want to know You and want to learn about You in a relational way that is free from misleading emotions. Please help me clear my mind so Your Spirit can lead me to truth. Amen.

Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the Telling the Truth broadcast at OnePlace.com

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