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Q&A: What advice do you have for a new dad?

I didn’t have a great father growing up, and now I’m going to be a father. What advice can you give to a new dad?

Congratulations and Happy Father’s Day! No matter how stressful the day, I always say there are no problems when you’re holding a baby—sleeping or happy, that is!

According to Psalm 127:3, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” A reward is something you receive that you can enjoy. But children are also a heritage that you leave behind to bless others when you are gone.

Love God

Your question could have many answers, but I’ll offer three pieces of biblical advice. The first is simple: Love God. I pray for my daughters that their husbands love Jesus more than they love my daughters. Be the spiritual leader in the house that your family needs. The heritage you want your kids to receive from you is a profound love for the Savior. When God says that he punishes the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:7), that does not mean that believing children pay for the sins of their unbelieving fathers. Rather, it shows that sins can get handed down from one generation to the next, leaving a heritage of unbelief. Let yours be a heritage of faith instead!

In every way, let your household echo the words of Joshua: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Love your spouse

Just as you model love for God, also model love for your spouse.

There are two very important reasons to do this in a family. First, you are showing your daughter what to look for in a loving spouse one day and your son how to love his wife one day. Second, by prioritizing your relationship with your spouse, you are teaching your children that they are not the center of the universe.

Have you ever met children whose parents let them think they are the center of the universe? It’s not pleasant. Once they hit adulthood, it’s even worse.

Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In this way, you model Jesus’ love for the church!

Love your child

How do we love our children best? “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Instruct your children with God’s Word. Live Jesus for them in praying, singing hymns, having devotions, and going to church with them.

Correct with God’s Word. “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:7,11). An undisciplined child is a spoiled child who grows into a spoiled adult. Help your child grow in maturity.

Finally, as you discipline, forgive with God’s Word. There are few more touching pictures of God’s forgiveness than the parable of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15. The father patiently watches and waits for his son’s return and then smothers him with forgiveness. Let “Jesus died for your sin. You are forgiven” be a common phrase in your house.

You won’t be perfect. Receive forgiveness often by your Father in heaven.

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Q&A Bible study open bible 2023 Dave Scharf

God as our father

Scripture commonly refers to the first person of the triune God as our Father. We express the truth regularly in our worship. The Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father in heaven.” We confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”

Maybe this concept of viewing God as Father is not a particularly comforting thought because you still have “dad scars” that run deep. Truthfully, many struggle a bit with this, because even if you had a great father, you didn’t have a perfect father who loved you perfectly. I certainly know my failings as a father. As hard as I might try, there are places that earthly love can’t travel, problems that my love can’t solve, and mistakes that my love makes. But God is perfect. He is our perfect Father.

Let’s examine more closely those opening words of the Apostles’ Creed.

I believe in God . . .

God defines who he is in Exodus 34:6,7 as he passed in front of Moses. He continues to reveal many of his attributes (i.e., characteristics) throughout Scripture.

Read Exodus 34:6,7; Psalm 139:7-10; Malachi 3:6; Matthew 5:48; Acts 1:24; and Colossians 1:17.

Identify as many characteristics of God as you can. For each characteristic, think of a biblical example for the truth of that attribute as well as what that attribute means for your life.

. . . the Father

Why do we call God our Father?

  • Malachi 2:10 says, “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?” God is the Father of all people because he created all people.
  • Matthew 17:5 records the Father’s words: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We call God Father because he is the Father of Jesus.
  • Galatians 3:26 says, “In Christ you are all children of God through faith.” God is our Father in a special way through faith in Jesus.

What things come to mind when you hear the word father?

As you face each day, how does knowing God is your Father affect your outlook?

To what attribute of God the Father do you most cling?

. . . Almighty, maker of heaven and earth

In addition to creation, Scripture is full of examples of the truth of God’s almighty power. The flood, the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the conquest of Jericho are just a few! But the best part of God’s might is how he uses it—for your good.

In the explanation to the First Article, Luther says that God protects us and provides for us. He then concludes, “All this God does only because he is my good and merciful Father in heaven, and not because I have earned or deserved it.”

Read Matthew 6:25-34.

What truths about “God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth” will you keep in mind the next time you are tempted to worry?

Author: David Scharf
Volume 111, Number 06
Issue: June 2024

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This entry is part 1 of 66 in the series question-answer

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