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The Godlyfather

The Godlyfather

Did you know the greatest number of long distance phone calls during the year are made on Mother’s Day? That is why I call my mother the day before Mother’s Day just to get through to her. However, on Father’s Day, there is little problem in calling. In fact, Father’s Day is when largest number of collect calls are made! Maybe that is because dad’s standard answer when his children ask a question is, “Go ask your mother!”

A good father is one of the most unappreciated heroes in our society. Feminism, socialism, and welfare have convinced many men and women that fathers are not crucial to a society’s success.

Someone described a good father as a:

Mender of toys, leader of boys,
Changer of fuses, kisser of bruises,
Mover of couches, soother of ouches,
Pounder of nails, teller of tales,
Hanger of screens, counselor of teens,
Fixer of bikes, chastiser of tykes,
Raker of leaves, cleaner of eaves,
Dryer of dishes, fulfiller of wishes,

However, the best description of a good father is a godly father. An example of such a father is Joshua. At the age of 110, he summoned the leaders of Israel to Shechem for a farewell address. He charged them to obey the Lord who had fought for them and given them an inheritance. He warned them of the danger of apostasy, saying:

Josh 24:14-18 "Now fear the LORD  and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God." 

As Joshua spoke, he did so with the authority of experience, for he had walked with Moses for 40 years and led Israel into the conquest of Canaan for another 25 years. He reinforced his authority with the power of a godly example. He practiced what he preached.

Like a godly father, Joshua acknowledged his responsibility for the spiritual life of his family. He spoke for all when he declared, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

A father cannot function effectively unless he is in close contact with God. It is the father’s duty, then, to make sure he has an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and his children know how to be saved and how to live by the Holy Spirit. The greatest thing a father can pass on to his children is his faith in Jesus Christ and his love of God. However, a father can only pass on something he possesses. 

Whether the father is godly, good, or bad, the family will usually follow the father, especially the boys. Someone has said, “A boy loves his mother, but will follow his father." A daughter will look for someone like her father to marry. Therefore, it is important that a father present a godly example for his children. Without a father’s presence, children get their ideas about God and manhood from other males in the culture.

This week I heard a touching story about a godly father whose young son had become very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the sad news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Savior, so the father knew that death would usher him into Glory; but he wondered how to inform one so young that he would die so soon. After earnestly praying, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First, he read a passage of Scripture and had a time of prayer with his son. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. "Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my son?" asked the father. Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, "No, not if He’s like you, Dad!"

A godly father is also a man of prayer, daily asking for wisdom and grace for himself, and protection for his wife and children. It is said, “A family that prays together, stays together.”

When Joshua spoke, his voice rang with the sound of unity in the family: “as for me and my household.” That unity was possible because of Joshua’s godly character and example. When a father’s faith is genuine, authentic, and full of God’s love, the response from the family is, “Whatever you say, dad; we trust you.”

When marriage vows are kept and the couple is devoted both to the Lord and to each other, there is no more powerful statement of family unity. When the family is united, it will endure the trials that come its way. Joshua possessed a godly determination to persevere with his family. He was prepared to stand alone with his family if necessary.

God has commissioned dads to be the head of the home. Therefore men, we are the spiritual leader of our home whether we realize it or not; whether we want to be or not. We cannot escape this responsibility. We will either lead our family closer to God or further away. We have no other option. Even if we delegate our spiritual duties to our wife, we are still responsible for the outcome. In spite of all our wife’s efforts, it will be our behavior that leads our family closer to the evil one or closer to Jesus Christ.

As spiritual leaders it’s our responsibility to show that we are genuine, that our faith is not just something for Sunday, but a life we live all week long. So if we come to church and carry our Bible and look very pious on Sunday, but we never open it through the week, our kids will know. They’ll be watching us and they’ll know. If we pray here on Sunday morning when everybody else is praying, but we never pray at home, our kids will know that, too.

So it is absolutely essential, dads, that our faith is genuine, and that our children see that we not only worship here but that we worship at home. We not only read the Word of God here, but we read it at home. We not only pray here, but that we pray every day of our lives.

1 Thessalonians 2:8-12 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 

These verses suggest some godly traits a father needs today. The first trait would be the ability to express genuine love. Notice what Paul says in vs. 8, “We loved you so much.”

Love is an important character trait for fathers because God is love. Since children get concepts about their Heavenly Father from their earthly father, fathers need God’s love in their heart.

Our best example of fatherhood, of course, is our Father in heaven. And the best story to show that is the one Jesus told of the Prodigal Son. The reason this is so universally applicable is that most of us have been rebellious. We resented our parent’s rules. We didn’t want to wait. We wanted all the adult privileges and none of the responsibility. You know the story. The son goes off into a far country and squanders all his inheritance. And when he runs out of money, he runs out of friends, and ends up in a hog wallow, eating from the slop that is fed to the pigs. As he sits with the pigs, Jesus says in Luke 15:17-18 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

Now notice something important. He felt that he could repent and go back to his father. The consequences of his sin would remain, his inheritance was lost, but he knew his father’s door was open to him if he repented. How did he know that? Most likely all through the time of raising his son, the father had communicated his love.

You know, our Father in Heaven always leaves the door open for us to repent and come home again, too. And as dads, we need to discipline our kids, but at the same time, teach them that no matter how deep their sin, “You can always repent and come home.” And there’ll be a father waiting to throw his arms around you, and to assure you of his abiding love. As a result, our children can also believe that their Heavenly Father will receive them as well when they repent.

The second trait Paul mentions in vs 8 is a transparent life. 1 Thessalonians 2:8, We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

Now notice that there is a connection between “gospel” and “lives.” It is one thing to hear the Gospel, but it is another thing to see someone live it. Paul is saying, “When we lived among you, we not only told you the good news, we modeled it for you by how we lived.”

If you’re a Christian dad, your kids ought to know it by the way you live as well as by what you say. For example, being a Christian will affect the decisions you make every day. The values in your home will be different than those found in a pagan home. Your children ought to be able to see the difference.

A pagan home values things like pleasure, power, prestige, and possessions. But in a Christian home, we learn that things we can’t see, things we can’t buy, and things we can’t hold on to, are really the most precious.

Kids need to see in their fathers, not just an authority figure, but someone who is real, someone whose heart has been touched and changed by God; someone who still makes mistakes, and yet has the courage to admit that he has made those mistakes. They need to see how one repents, makes restitution, turns to God for forgiveness, and is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do things differently next time. That is a transparent life.

There is a third trait of a godly father in the next verse. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

We have a responsibility as fathers to teach a good work ethic to our children so they can contribute to society instead of burden it. Oftentimes, if kids don’t see a father who has a good work ethic, they’ll never learn it. That is why so many fatherless kids are low achievers and don’t know how to work.

We teach a good work ethic in two ways. First, we teach by example, by just doing it and letting our children see that. Secondly, our children learn by doing. We give them the opportunity to do things and make their own mistakes and learn from the mistakes they make. By working with our children in the yard, garden, or making repairs and maintaining equipment, we have an opportunity to fellowship with them, teach them, and have fun with them. As a result, they learn to enjoy work and the sense of accomplishment it brings.

Finally, there is the trait of positive influence. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 

That is what a godly father does. He encourages, comforts, and urges his children to live lives worthy of God. Even when a father must disciple his children, it is done because he loves them and is teaching them through the discipline. It’s all positive.

But not every dad is a positive influence. Some dads are absent. Some have a negative influence. Undoubtedly, when the background check is complete, we will find the young man who entered a church in South Carolina and killed 9 people had a father who failed to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. No one is born a racist. Racism is learned often while one is young.

Much of the problems in society are due to the breakdown of the family and the failure of fathers. Fathers are failing because they lack faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the fruit of His Spirit—love. We need fathers like Joshua leading us again.

Here are 10 easy ways that fathers can fail.

1. Have fights with your spouse in front of your children. Then when guests come, stop arguing and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’s questions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; withhold the rod and try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything they desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Make wonderful promises to your children, but find excuses to never carry them out.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

It is our prayer that none of you fathers fail. But if you are failing or you have already failed, it is not too late. Repent, ask God for forgiveness. Ask your wife and children to forgive you, and let the Holy Spirit give you grace to die to all pride and selfishness and fill you with love. Let Him lead you and guide you to become a successful father.

The last verse of the Old Testament gives us a promise and a warning. Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

If you have never given your life to Jesus Christ, you have no grace or power to be a godly father. Without Jesus Christ you are doomed to fail. The best you can hope for is to raise worldly children who will be self-centered, just like their dad. That is the curse. Our land is cursed because of ungodly fathers.

We pray you will break that curse by repenting of your sin—your independence from God—and make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. Confess Jesus as the Son of God and the atonement for your sin upon the cross. Then follow Him in baptism—dying to self and being born again of the Holy Spirit. Your family will notice the difference and they will be blessed.