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The Faithful Father

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In Ramsey Count, Minnesota, 9th and 10th graders were asked this question: "What comes to mind when you think of the word 'dad'?" Answers came from both ends of the spectrum. Some of them said, “When I think about the word dad I think of the word jerk." Others thought of the words angry, mad, and absent. On the other hand, some said, " when I think of the word dad I think of wholeness, kindness, security, safety." [i] What comes to your mind when you think of the word, “dad”? When you think of dad, you may remember your father’s strength, tempered by his gentleness, wisdom, and goodness. On Father’s Day, you may have fond memories of the man who provided for you, and protected you. One son I know once gave his father the ultimate compliment when he said, “My dad was my best friend.”On the other hand, maybe the word “dad” doesn’t fill your mind with good memories. Maybe your father was distant, or even abusive. Maybe your father wasn’t around at all. Perhaps Father’s Day opens up old wounds that have never really healed.  Fathers have an enormous impact on the lives of their children. Being a father is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility. Some fathers take that responsibility seriously, but sadly, some do not. This morning, I want to look at some characteristics of a faithful father as defined by the Bible. If you are a dad, I want to offer you some tips for being the best father you can be to your kids. But I also want for each of us to realize that no matter great your earthly father was, or how deeply disappointed you’ve been in your dad, you have a perfect Father in Heaven who wants to bless you with the love of a father’s heart.             To do this, I want to look at 3 ways Jesus compares earthly dads to His heavenly Father. Let’s begin in Matt. 7:9-11.

PRAYER

            To begin with, let me point out that

I.              GOOD FATHERS ARE GIVERS (Matt. 7:9-11)

     Fathers have a reputation for stinginess.

Bill Cosby writes in his book Fatherhood: Now that my father is a grandfather, he just can’t wait to give money to my kids. But when I was his kid and I asked him for fifty cents, he would tell me…How he got up at 4 A.M. when he was 7 years old and walked 23 miles to milk 90 cows. And the farmer for whom he worked had no bucket, so he had to squirt the milk into his little hand and then walk 8 miles to the nearest can. All for 5 cents a month. The [end]result was that I never got my 5O cents.

            Your may remember your dad telling you similar stories. But it really wasn’t because dad was stingy—it’s because he wants you to appreciate how good you have it.

            One reason we have it so good is because a good father is a good provider. I am not referring just to money or material things. A faithful father gives of his time, his energy, his life. To be a good provider, you have to be a giver. Good fathers are givers, and Jesus uses this fact to teach us about prayer, and God the Father’s generosity to His children. In this passage he tells us:

            He gives them good things. Human fathers give their children good gifts (v. 11) A good father doesn’t give his kids anything that will hurt them. In fact, most dads want their kids to have better things than they had growing up.

            Sometimes that is why he spends so much time working to provide those good things for his family. Jesus says God is a good father who always gives good gifts to His kids when we ask Him. The book of James goes further:  

            James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

            Good fathers give us good things, which also means

            He gives them what they need. Bread and fish were staple foods of that day, necessary parts of the family diet. Dads couldn’t always give their children every thing they wanted, but they did work hard to give them what they needed. In the same way, our Heavenly Father promises to supply all of our needs.

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.           

            A faithful father gives his kids good things they need, but often dad goes one step further;

            He gives them much of what they want.  Good dads don’t just supply the requirements of life- they look for special ways to give gifts their children will enjoy. Just look down the aisles of a department store as Christmas nears, and you will see Dads who are searching for that gift that their son or daughter just had to have.

            Like any good dad, Jesus implies by His use of the word gift that God is also interested in generously giving His kids not just what they need, but many things they want.

            John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

            Our Heavenly Father enjoys giving you the desires of your heart. Of course, like any good dad, he does not give us everything we desire- that would spoil us, and end up doing more harm than good. But I have experienced those special times when God showered me with a blessing that I neither needed nor deserved. I believe He enjoys giving us those presents just to see us smile.  

            Faithful fathers are givers. They may gripe and complain about all the work they have to do, but  most of them get a satisfaction from giving their wives and kids the good things they need and want.

            Our Heavenly Father is even more generous to His kids. He gives us all that we need in life- from the food on our tables to the air that we breathe. He gives us our families, our jobs, and our health. He throws in those extra special gifts for no other reason than he likes to see us smile. A good dad is a giver, but he’s not only a giver---

II.  GOOD FATHERS ARE TEACHERS (John 5:19)

     Mark Twain once wrote When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

   Isn’t it amazing how much more we appreciate the wisdom of our father as we grow older? A father is one of a child’s most important teachers.

            Do you remember some of the things you learned from your dad?

            Maybe it was dad who taught you how to bait a hook, how to hit a baseball, or ride a bicycle. Later he taught you how to drive, how to balance your checkbook. Dads are teachers, and Jesus reminds us our Heavenly Father is a teacher also.

            How does a good father teach His children?  

He teaches them through example. The familiar phrase, like father like son expresses an important truth. Jesus says He does exactly what He saw His Heavenly Father doing.

Example is probably one of the most important ways we learn.

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. -  James Baldwin

Earthly fathers have a big responsibility to model righteous behavior for their kids, just as God sets an example for all of His children.

Ephesians 5:1Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

            He teaches them through discipline. Just wait until your father gets home! Anybody here remember that line? Most of us have experienced dad’s discipline. Sometimes mom spanked us, but when dad pulled off his belt- it was all over. Mom might ease up a little, but dad usually did a more thorough job. We didn’t believe it then, but it was good for us—as the Bible says in

            Pr 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Hebrews 12:9-11 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? …Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

When you read these verses, you need to remember there is a difference between discipline and abuse. Nowhere in Scripture does God approve of abuse. Abuse is motivated by anger or pride—discipline is motivated by love. Part of a loving father’s teaching of his kids is discipline. That is true for earthly dads, and true for our heavenly Father.

            He teaches them through training. A father is supposed to train his children in godliness.

Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in

the training and admonition [counsel or warning]of the Lord.

   Throughout the Bible, from the time of Moses, to the book of Proverbs, to the NT, God

charges fathers with the task of teaching their kids His Word. It is sad that many times we try to pass that job to someone else, but Dad, that is your job. Your teaching and training (or lack thereof) is affecting the life of your children.

A good father is a teacher. Fathers, you must be careful how and what you teach your kids. Children may forget what you say, but they never forget what you do.

What are you teaching your kids, dad? Are you teaching them to love God, to love one another—or are you teaching them to ignore God, and look out for # 1? Are you teaching them to do what’s right—or to do what is evil? A good father teaches his kids to do what’s right.

Even if your earthly dad did not faithfully teach you, your Heavenly Father is a good teacher. He gives you His word to guide you. He uses His discipline to train you. He gives you a perfect example in His Son Jesus, to help you know how to live a good life. It’s never too late to learn from your Heavenly Father.

Good fathers are givers. Good fathers are teachers. And finally,

III. GOOD FATHERS ARE LOVERS (John 16:27)

One word that can summarize a good father’s relationship with his kids is love. A father loves his children- from the time they’re born, there is a bond of love stronger than the hardest steel. Jesus tells us our Heavenly Father loves us even more. There are probably endless ways  God expresses His love for you and I, but let me give you 2:

He loves us unconditionally. A good father’s love is indestructible. A good father always love his kids, no matter what they do. I know I love my sons that way.

I don’t always like what they do, and there is no guarantee that they will always do what’s right. I may argue with them, disagree with them, or walk away from them in anger. But there is nothing- absolutely nothing- that will ever make me stop loving my children.  

God feels the same way about His kids. He never stops loving us, even when we do wrong. He never stops longing for us to do what is right. Some of His children stop loving Him- they travel far away from His love, sometimes so far away that they never come back. But our Father in Heaven never stops loving us.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A good father loves his children unconditionally.

            He loves us sacrificially. My dad worked for Seaboard coastline railroad as a communications maintainer. He never was a man who wore his heart on his sleeves. He is not a man who likes to hug. His way of showing his love for me and the rest of our family was by working to put clothes on our backs, and food on our table.

I never knew until much later the things he went through at his job for his family. He’d sometimes get a call in the wee hours of the morning to come and repair a line that had been downed during the night. He’d drive for hours, sometimes to swamps, waist deep in dark water, to reach that downed line and fix it. He often climbed extremely high communication towers to repair some defect. Some nights he never went to bed at all. Like so many fathers, my dad went to extreme lengths to demonstrate his love for us.

            But as much as my dad loves me, I have another Father Who went to even greater extremes to show His love for me. John 3:16 tells me how  God sent His Son to become a man, for no other reason than to die, so that you and could be free from sin’s penalty and power, and one day come to live with Him in heaven. Though our salvation is free to us, it cost God dearly to redeem us. But somehow, He thinks we are worth it, because our God loves us.

            Dad, let me tell you- if your children don’t know anything else about you, let them know you love them. Don’t assume they know- tell them! Don’t just tell them- show them! Let them know you love them when they are good and when they aren’t so good. Let them know you love them when they make you feel proud, and when they don’t. Do not ever let there be any doubt in their minds that their daddy loves them!

            Whatever else you may know or not know about God, let me remind you that He loves you. If you want to know how much, go back to Calvary, where God places your sins the on Jesus’ shoulders so you can be forgiven.

             Listen to the Holly Spirit whisper to your soul- “Your Heavenly Father did this because He loves you.” Whether or not your earthly father showed that love to you, your Father in Heaven loves you with an everlasting love.

            Today, you and I can thank God for good fathers. They are reflections of the greater love of God that never fails us. They point to stronger arms long to hold us and keep us for eternity. David Kraft grew up with a good father who loved him and who modeled God’s love to Him. It was no surprise David gave his life to Christ at an early age, and later was called into the ministry.At the age of 32 David was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. He worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, ministering to many young people, until he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The disease ravaged his body mercilessly. In a matter of weeks he dropped from 200 pounds to eighty pounds.    When David knew his time on earth was almost up he asked his father to come into his hospital room. Lying there in the bed, he looked up and said, "Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy, how you used to just hold me in your arms close to your chest?"    David's father nodded, the tears welling up in his eyes. Then David said, "Do you think, Dad, you could do that one more time? One last time?"    His old dad bent down to pick up his 32-year-old six-foot two, eighty-pound son, and held him close to his chest so the son's face was right next to the father's face. Tears were streaming down both faces. David said to his dad, "Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this."[ii]      This morning, we worship the Lord by saying, “Thank you, Lord for dads.”             Thank you Lord, for dads who provide for their kids, who teach them to love Jesus, who give us a glimpse of how much God the Father loves us. If you have or had this kind of dad, take time to thank God for him—and if he’s still here, take time to tell him how much you love him. If you haven’t committed your life to Christ, right now would be a good time to follow in your dad’s footsteps of faith.             But if your dad disappointed you, if your father didn’t do his job very well, God wants you know He wants to be the faithful, loving Father you never had. You don’t have to take my word for it—you can come to Him today, through Jesus Christ, and find the love your heart is aching for in the arms of your Heavenly Father.              What do you need to do?             You need to admit to God and yourself that you’re a sinner, who needs God’s forgiveness.             You’ve got to turn away from your sins, and trust Christ alone as your Lord and Savior.     You’ve got to surrender yourself to Christ, committing yourself to following Him from this day forward.             This morning, if you come to Christ, He will lead you into the loving arms of the Heavenly Father. Won’t you come right now and receive Him?  
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[i] Roger Thompson, "Becoming a Man," Preaching Today, Tape No. 140.

[ii] Ron Lee Davis, "Introducing Christ to Your Child," Preaching Today, Tape No. 92.

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