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XII.
A Message to Fathers
J. WILBUR CHAPMAN
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household ter him.”—.
In the plan and purpose of God, the father is the head of the ~usehold. Spiritually he is supposed to be a priest and is held respon­~le for those about him.
God has not placed him in this position without instructions as to his ring and warnings as to his dangers. Abraham was God’s represen­öve, he was the head of a great family; and as such, every teaching ~ncerning him is important.
You will always do well to tie to a man in whom God has confidence, horn God is willing to trust and with whom God walks in closest Ilowship.
Abraham was such a man; therefore, we must be interested in him. ~ we study him carefully we shall find in his life many valuable lessons ~d shall learn many things which will help us in the order of our homes. From the day when he left Ur of the Chaldees, going out he knew at whither, only knowing that he had the divine call and he must answer ~ and that trusting in God, he was inspired by the vision of the day I Christ which would ultimately break up the sin-cursed earth; to the ~Y when he fell asleep and was placed with his beloved dead in the ~Kve of Machpelah, God could trust him, and this is the highest tribute ~at can be paid to anyone.
In order that we may appreciate the worth of his character and the h~ength of his trust, it will be well to go back a little in the story and ~e him as, with Lot his nephew, the other members of his household
a great company of servants, he journeys day after day.
ABRAHAM ALLOWED GOD TO CHOOSE FOR HIM
One of the finest things that can be said concerning him was this:
when there was trouble with the servants of Lot and Abram, Abrary~ according to the record:
..... said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdrnen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. “—.
And when he had made this generous proposal to Lot, having been forsaken by his nephew, he stood alone. Then God spake to him:
“Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art north ward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.”—.
God can always trust the man who allows Him to choose for him the way in which he is to go, the friends with whom he is to have fellowship and the place of his abode.
How few men of business, before they have finally entered with a partner upon a business career, have gone alone to talk the matter over with God and in His presence have asked these questions: “Will this partnership be for the glory of God?”—or, “In this partnership shall I be able to advance the interests of the kingdom of God?”—Or, “In fellowship with this man with whom I propose a business arrangemeflt~ shall I be made a better and a truer man?”
There is no doubt but that such questions as these will cause manY to say: “This has been the last thing I have thought of in a business arrangement.” Failure to consider such an important matter as this is
ret of many a man’s undoing, for when God is left out of a life, is inevitable.
hM few of us stop in the pursuit of pleasure to ask ourselveS these ,ns—”WiIl this pleasure contribute to my strength of character?”
pleasure will it be possible for me to have fellowship with “Will it mean my being drawn closer to Hirn?”~~”Would I be
in this proposed pleasure to have a realization of the fact that is upon me?”
ch questions as these, rightly considered, would very easily settle ~rplexiflg problems of life in so far as pleasure is concerned; and ~uestiOns, properly answered, would keep us from falling into traps r us by the great enemy of our souls.
seeking a new place of residence, how few Christians have counSel with God to ask of him: “Will it be possible for me in ew home to live for God, or shall I be tempted to turn from Him?” this place of residence help me in the management of my home the training of my children?”
it is true that the most of us choose our homes without reference ~d; then we wonder why it is that our hearts are made to ache iobedient children or are all but broken by boys and girls who go
o few of us are like Abram; too many of us are like Lot.
choose our own friends, our business associates, our places of ~— and we pay the penalty. It would be well for us to contrast the ~us ending of Abraham’s life and the miserable defeat which Lot
to see the utter folly of such proceedings.
~g this contrast, I am persuaded that we should the more estly seek to have God’s approval in the conduct of life and strive e more worthy of His trust and confidence.
IE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN ABRAHAM’S HOME
of the most beautiful pictures of Abram’s life is found in that por­of his experience when one day at high noon he sat at his tent ~r, when suddenly three angels appeared before him, and the tent,
was very ordinary in appearance, becomes exceedingly beautiful .ase of the angels’ visit.
ie of the heavenly visitors was the Angel of the Covenant, and Angel of the Covenant in the Old Testament is our Lord Himself.
Happy the man in whose home the presence of the Lord is apparent and with whom He loves to abide; a tent is changed into a palace, and the most ordinary home into a mansion with such a Guest.
It is well to remember that He will not abide where there is conten.. tion and strife; the atmosphere will drive Him forth.
He cannot tarry where there are inconsistencies, where the members of the family circle profess one thing and live another.
He will not find pleasure in stopping where there is worldliness; it is a sad fact that in many professed Christian homes the Lord cannot take up His abode.
Do not forget that, while three angels visited Abram, only two came to Lot when he was in Sodom.
The Angel of the Covenant is absent when Lot is visited.
Could He tarry in your home as it is today? How about the library and the books which are there, books which, being antagonistic to Him, are suggestive of doubt or are possessed of an influence which would lead one to become indifferent to Him?
How about the living room, with the magazines tossed so carelessly upon the table, periodicals which have the power to injure your children, as well as those who sit about your fireside?
How about the habits of conversation which are so thoughtless, in some instances so critical, and at other times so unkind?
It is a sad thing, but alas it is true, that many a so-called Christian home is devoid of the best influence for good because, in spite of its splendid furnishings, the Lord cannot tarry there, however much He may desire to do so.
This message in the main is to fathers or to those who have beautiful memories of fathers.
I know quite well that about a mother’s name the most sacred memories cluster; that to many this is the sweetest name in language, with the exception of the name of our Lord Himself. But I would pay a tribute to fathers—fathers possessed of great strength and beautiful tenderness; fathers, the passion of whose lives has been the bringing up of their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and who in every way have been worthy of the name of father.
The Bible has many a picture of great fathers—fathers like Jacob who said with a breaking heart, when he thought he might lose Benjamifl~ “Me ye have bereft of my children, Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and now you will take Benjamin from me.
1thers like David, who, when he learned that Absalom was dead, ered down from between the gates, crying: “0 Absalom, my son, ion, would God I had died for thee.”
~thers like the father of the prodigal who never forgot his boy in ir wandering and who started forth to meet him when he was award bound, saluting him with a kiss, clothing him with a robe,
~1ng shoes upon his feet, a ring upon his hand, and then leading back to the old home from which he had gone away and which so soon to be filled with sounds of music, for the lost was found the dead alive again.
kit we are not shut up to Holy Writ for beautiful pictures of fathers. iink of your own father in his consistent living; think of his prayers ed with trembling tones; think of his life so consistent and true; think Bible so well worn and so tear-stained; then strive to be like him e was like Christ.
THE INFLUENCE OF A GOOD FATHER
the autobiography of John G. Paton he tells the story of his journey sgow from his home in the country. This journey marked a crisis
~is life. He says:
A small bundle, tied up in my pocket handkerchief, contained my Bible and all my personal belongings. Thus was I launched upon the ocean of life.
My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on the parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene.
For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost un­broken silence—my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long, flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl’s down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me, and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain. We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, then solemnly and affectionately said,
“God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you and keep you from all evil!”
Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears We embraced and parted.
I ran off as fast as I could, and when about to turn a corner in the
road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him. Waving my hat in adieu, I was round the corner and out of sight in an instant
But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Then, rising up cautiously I climbed the dyke to see if he yet stood there where I had left him and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dyke and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he had gazed eagerly in my direction for awhile, he got down, turned his face towards home and began to return, his head still uncovered and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me.
I watched through blinding tears till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as He had given me.
The appearance of my father, when we parted—his advice, prayers and tears—the road, the dyke, the climbing up on it and then walk­ing away, head uncovered, have often, often, all through life, risen vividly before my mind—and do so now while I am writing, as if it had been but an hour ago.
In my earlier years particularly, when exposed to many temptations, his parting form rose before me as that of a guardian angel. It is no Pharisaism but deep gratitude which makes me here testify that the memory of that scene not only helped, by God’s grace, to keep me pure from the prevailing sins, but also stimulated me in all my studies, that I might not fall short of his hopes, and in all my Christian duties, that I might faithfully follow his shining example.
The position of a father is solemn indeed. All too few appreciate what it means to be the head of a household.
“I charge you,” said a dying mother to her husband, the father of her children, “bring all these children home with you, and I shall meet you on the other side.” And God has given to every father the same charge.
The man who is so immersed in business, so taken up with pleasure or so given to sin that he allows his children to drift and to make wreck and ruin of their lives, is indeed to be pitied.
A father must be taught himself before he can teach others. It is a sad thing that, when the crisis or the hour of need comes in a child’s life, too many fathers are not able to speak the word in season.
A young man leaving his home to seek his fortune was given the following advice by his Christian father. He told him that there were three essentials to growth:
1. Proper food—.
(a) Have a good reference Bible.
(b) Set apart an hour daily sacred to Bible study.
(c) Study with a heart prepared for it ().
(d) Ask the Author of the Book to guide you (; ,).
(e) Study for personal profit (,; ).
(f) Study for equipment for service (,; ).
(g) Believe promises; heed warnings; obey directions.
(h) Remember it is God’s message to you.
Proper exercise—.
(a) Confess Christ before men (; ,).
(b) Get into the visible church (; ,).
(c) Observe the ordinances (; ).
(d) Pray daily in your family for God’s work ().
(e) Obey every Word of Christ (; ; ).
(f) Use all your time and talents faithfully ().
(g) Give systematically as God has prospered you (Prov.
3:9,10).
Proper associations—.
(a) Keep in the light (; ,; ).
(b) Walk with the wise ().
(c) Stand aloof from worldly conformity ().
(d) Go only where the Spirit leads you ().
one direction or the other you are influencing the lives of your ~n. If for good, then you are not living in vain. If for evil, the day .dgment will be a solemn day for you.
ny a man traces his strength of character back to his own father’s ~; and, alas, it is true, many a man charges his failure against his
~r, for he started him in life with a handicap which, in his own igth, it was quite impossible for him to overcome.
~ery father should be his boy’s greatest admiration, and if he lived ~ding to the teachings of God’s Word, he would start his boy along way of life with an upward tendency.
e picture is given of a child waiting the coming of his father, and father is true.
PAPA’S COMING
He swung on the gate and looked down the street, Awaiting the sound of familIar feet,
Then suddenly came to the sweet child’s eyes,
The marvelous glory of morning skies,
For a manly form with a steady stride,
Drew near to the gate that opened wide,
As the boy sprang forward and joyfully cried,
“Papa’s coming!”
But the picture is also given of a child wasted through neglect and hurt by another’s sin, waiting for his father, and the father’s coming meant the child’s suffering.
The wasted face of a little child,
Looked out of the window with eyes made wild,
By the ghostly shades in failing light,
And the glimpse of a drunk man In the night,
Cursing and reeling from side to side,
The poor boy, trembling and trying to hide,
Clung to his mother’s skirts and cried,
“Papa’s coming!”
ABRAHAM OBEYED GOD WITHOUT QUESTION
There are many reasons why God could say to Abram, “I know him.” Naturally the first reason would be that, when God called him in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham obeyed without question and started on his long journey not knowing whither he was to go, except that God had called him and he had answered.
The call of God has come to you quite as clearly as to Abram. God has bidden you acknowledge Him before men.
In the New Testament He has made it quite plain that you are ex­pected to confess Jesus Christ as Saviour. The confession of Christ means the acceptance of Christ. It implies a turning from sin and sug­gests that we are to turn unto God. We can hardly expect our children to do this until we have done it ourselves. Noah entered the ark, and his children passed in after him.
I was holding a meeting in a Western city when my attention was called to a man who was not only not in favor of evangelistic campaigflS~ but railed against the work in progress in his home, on the street and in his place of business. He was angered at his Christian wife for attend­ing the meetings; said he would go to a hotel until after they were over
e continued to talk about them or to ask him to attend them.
was a good husband and a kind father but not a Christian. So
was the interest throughout the city that at last out of curiosity decided to drop in to one of the meetings one evening. The text ~, “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.”
stayed for the after-meeting, went home, said nothing about where iad been. In fact, from that time on he said never a word against meetings. His wife noticed that he was more quiet and thoughtful, she did not dream of what was on his mind.
)n Christmas morning he came down late to breakfast, said that he not care to eat very much, asked his family to go into the library him and there gave each one the usual present and received his s from the members of his family. When this was done, he threw arms about his wife and kissed her, saying, “I want to present to .a the greatest gift I have ever offered you—a Christian husband— jI want to present to the children a Christian father.”
rhe family then knelt together in prayer, and the first prayer he ever red before them was prayed that morning. He there and then
ied his family altar.
-le told them of the meeting which he had attended and of the ser­rn which made him a new creature. And that Christmas Day he
his first blessing at the dinner table.
Every home would be better if it were Christian.
very child would have a better chance in life if the father of the usehold should accept Jesus Christ as Saviour.
.ife is only worthwhile when God has all there is of us and when ~licitly we follow His instructions in everything.
God has also commanded you to speak to your children about their rsonal relationship to Him and their acceptance of Christ. Many a ther feels that the minister may do this for him or the special worker iy do it or the mother may do it, but that father is recreant to his Last who neglects to speak for himself to his children about their con­ri of Christ.
ABRAHAM WAS CONCERNED FOR OTHERS
God also could trust Abram because He knew of his spirit of interces­ra for Lot.
In Genesis we read:
“And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah ~ great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down flOw, ~fld see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, Which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
“And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
“Peraduenture there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteo~8 with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?
“And the Lord said, If Ifind in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
“And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
“Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
“And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
“And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak:
Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it if I find thirty there.
“And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
“And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
“And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. “—
ABRAHAM HELD BACK NOTHING FROM GOD
The supreme test of his life, however, came when God commanded him to take Isaac and journey with him to an altar which He would show him, and the following is the record:
~d he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for
~nt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. ~d Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, ,ok two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and dave ,ood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place hich God had told him.
hen on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place off.
id Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. Lnd Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they both of them together.
~d Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood:
ohere is the lamb for a burnt offering?
knd Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for ~amt offering: so they went both of them together.
Lnd they came to the place which God had told him of; and am built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
~nd Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay
son.
~nd the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, am, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.”—.
gine the experience of these days if you can when the father, with set face, walks with the boy who was repeatedly questioning him,
the father saying, “My son, God will show us what we must do.” am is willing to place his son upon the altar and sacrifice his life ed be, when at the critical moment God speaks and his uplifted
id is stopped and another sacrifice is provided, but Abraham fails God can trust the man who holds nothing back from Him.
is a sad, sad thing not to be right with God.
is the story of two families in New England given to me by a who knew their history.
e first young man gave his heart to Christ, united with the church, line a Baptist deacon, married a minister’s daughter, had a bless-
ing at the table, erected a family altar, attended church regularty c~ Sunday and was also in the prayer meeting of the church at the mid. week service.
The second young man was not a Christian. He married a brilliant woman, but one who did not believe in Christ; she criticized the Bible she sneered at the Son of God, there was no prayer in the home ancj the church was neglected.
In the first home the daughter became a beautiful Christian, the elder son a Christian lawyer, and the second son a minister of the Gospel.
In the second home the elder son became a brilliant lawyer; he Was not a Christian and died a drunkard; the second son became a physj.. cian and died a sot; the only daughter became so vile that the story, as it is repeated today in New England, shocks everyone.
Right living always pays. It pays for time, and it pays for eternity.
In one of Dr. Grenfell’s books, Off the Rocks, there is the story of an old man. He wanted to build a home, so he saved up all the nails he could find or buy, secured lumber here and there, found a fairly good supply of glass, then built his house. He had hard luck for a bit, and his hair whitened before the time; but he became a Christian, and the tide of his life turned. He was a fisherman, he made himself a trap net, and it was a wonderful day when he set the net and waited results.
One special Saturday night this net was set, and on Sunday morn­ing the ice pans began to move, causing the nets to be in danger. Dr. Grenfell met him on his way to church and told him to go out and get the net. “No,” said he, “Doctor, there are too many people who make an excuse for fishing on Sunday, and since I am a Christian, I must not do this.”
Five minutes after midnight he went out, brought the net in, and it was worthless.
Twelve years passed by. His boys had grown to manhood. His girls had homes of their own. They were all Christians. The old man’s hair is whiter still, but his step is firm and his faith is strong and daily groW ing stronger, for he was right with God.
Time will one day give place to eternity, and the question Y~U will have to face in the future will not be: “How much pleasure did yOU have in life?” “How much money did you make?” “How much fame did you win?” but, “What did you do with Jesus?” “What did you do for your children?” It would be a sad thing to be obliged to say, “I was
here and there with other matters and let my children go.”
the other hand, it would be a great day if, when the journey of finished and the tasks on earth are done, you could say as you Him in eternity, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath me.
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