And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. – 1Peter 1: 17-20 (NLT) On the third Sunday of every June the country pauses momentarily to acknowledge the plight of fathers across this land. Given the increase in broken families and the lack of fathers in many children’s lives, it certainly seems appropriate, albeit commercialized. Just a day where ties are given as presents and dads barbeque for their families, Father’s Day seems to come and go quietly. Before we move onto the Fourth of July however, let us pause and remember that we all share the same Father, God Almighty. The key verses remind us of some timeless truths we might overlook during our walk with Him. The first truth for us today is that God does not play favorites. He is ultimately a fair God; as opposed to us, who can often be very unfair. Jacobloved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. – Genesis 37: 3-4 (NLT) Jacob did play favorites and the result was Joseph’s brothers hated him. That hatred would lead them to conspire to kill Joseph and eventually settle on selling him into slavery and telling Jacob he had been killed. Dysfunctional families are not a recent thing beloved. But unlike Jacob, our heavenly Father plays no such favorites. Remember, the one who appears more spiritual might only appear that way. There is never a reason to compare ourselves with other people. We do not know their story, their sacrifices, or their truths. What we can hang out beliefs on is the Father we serve plays no favorites. Secondly, what we do actually does matter to our Father, who is watching. This should put another nail in the coffin of the grace alone heresy. It is true that the grace of God will cover our sins for our eternal consequences if we are truly in Christ Jesus. There are however still temporal concerns for us. Our behavior still carries temporal consequences. Beyond that however, our behavior and deeds carry with them eternal consequences as well. The bad things we do we will be judged for and the things we do right we will be rewarded for. Within this verse however are two other important keys for maintaining a good standing with our Father. The first is that we are supposed to live in reverent fear of the Lord. I remember growing up that I had a healthy fear of my father. All my mother would have to say was, “wait until your father gets home.” The sad truth today is that we are rapidly losing the reverent fear of the Lord. The new theories of church growth are recreating God into a warm and fuzzy pal we can get advice from instead of the all powerful Creator who we should be obeying. Everyone rushes to sing Friend of God but not so much any songs about His Lordship. Theologies such as grace alone and seeker friendly have poisoned relationships between Christians and their Father in heaven. Closely tied to this is the truth that our time here is supposed to be lived out as foreigners in this land. I say closely tied because the primary way in which we show a lack of reverent fear is by continuing to dabble in the things of this world, if not live completely divided lives. We dress up nice, raise our hands, and play church on Sundays but live like hell during the week. God is very specific here and in other places in the Bible about how we are supposed to live: Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. – 1Peter 2: 11 (NIV) Because it does not fit well with the purpose driven mindset, we are no longer taught much about the war we are in as believers. Instead of sin all we want to hear about is grace. Instead of being foreigners in this world we are residents. You cannot pitch your tent towards Sodom and not find yourself eventually living there. God is watching beloved. Even if you never hear that on Sundays anymore…God is watching. Thirdly, we must never forget that we were bought at a price. The life we once led was empty. The only life we can ever pass on to our children in this world will be equally empty. How many rich and famous people have to kill themselves before we recognize the lies this world sells us? The only life that has value is the one that is found in Christ. It is the life that our Father purchased for us – while we were still in complete rebellion to Him. It did not cost Him silver or gold beloved. It cost Him everything. God paid a ransom for you and I. Satan is the lord of this world and he once held us in his grasp. God stepped in and paid a ransom with the life of His only Son. We do not hear much about this sacrifice anymore. Portions of Christianity are becoming a bloodless religion, devoid of any true power. The human wisdom is we don’t want to scare anyone away! Are you serious? Where are you going to scare them to? Hell number two? I wrote recently about an article by Rick Warren, the father of the purpose driven heresy, where he suggested not preaching a Gospel centered message on Easter Sunday because you want to give the visitors “a reason to come back to your church.” I am sorry Pastor Warren – those people are not “unchurched” – they are unsaved! They do not need to hear how to make their marriage better; they need to hear the Gospel! They need to hear that they have a heavenly Father who loves them very much. So much so that He sent His only Son to die in their place for their sins. They need to hear that this Father does not play favorites with His children and doesn’t want to see any perish. They also need to hear the whole truth though. They need to hear that we need to hold a reverent fear of who God is because He will judge us for what we do wrong and reward us for what we do right. That our lives have consequences still. They need to understand that our Father grants us citizenship in heaven and that our time on earth now must be lived out as foreigners, not residents. They need to understand this because every day should be the Father’s Day in our lives. Because our Father has given us everything and all He asks in return is that we be His children. I love You Abba. Rev. Anthony.