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Our Father . . .

Matthew 6:9

Usually the pattern in churches, is to exalt motherhood on Mother's Day and beat up Fathers on Father's Day. We preachers usually chew the guys out for not spending enough time with the family, or for being spiritual dishrags. I don't want to break with tradition, so let's get that ritual over with. Guys, spend time with your family and don't be a spiritual wimp--be the head of your home. I feel better now, don't you?

Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to preach a "Mother's Day" sermon for our fathers. Being a father is a high calling. Think about this. God uses the "Father-child" relationship as a model to explain our relationship with Him. When we pray to Him, we pray as Jesus taught us, "Our Father which art in heaven . . ." Why Father? Perhaps it is because of the importance of that relationship.

Are dads disposable? Are they needed for a healthy family?

I have a feeling Paulette Edwards can answer those questions. She is a single mother rasing a 15-year-old daughter in Westland, Michigan. And she is doing it alone.

The father of her daughter doesn't pay any child support. Oh, he is supposed to, but he doesn't. Right now, he owes Paulette $78,000. Money the family desperately needs.

Paulette works two jobs, regularly shops at thrift stores for her clothes, drives an old car, is behind on her taxes and often has to skip meals. "Many days my daughter would eat, and I would watch," said Edwards. "It was demeaning." (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

It is nearly impossible for one person to fulfill the role of two. Some would have you believe it takes a village to raise a child. But what is everyone's job tends to be no one's job. I'd rather say, it takes two parents to raise a child--a mom and a dad. Paulette doesn't need a village, she needs the father of her child to be a dad, not a bum.

Fathers are responsible for the physical welfare of their children. Like Jairus was in Mark 5:23 when he came to Jesus and said, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, that she may get well and live." And the royal official did in John 4:49 "Sir, come down before my child dies." 

These men were actively involved in the lives of their children. Not only did they provide for them financially, but they pleaded for help to save their lives when they were dying.

But fathers are needed for more than financial support. Children raised without a father are more likely to live in poverty, yes, but they are also more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems, commit suicide, be sexually active before marriage, engage in delinquent behavior and get a divorce when they are grown. (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Fathers are needed.

Fathers are needed to take responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their children, like Job did. Job 1:5 says, "And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, 'Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus Job did continually." 

Unfortunately, not every child has a father like Job. Eli the priest, disgraced his calling because he did not rebuke his evil sons and take responsibility for their spiritual welfare. "For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. [14] And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." (1 Samuel 3:13-14 NASB)

Fathers, are responsible for the spiritual condition of their children. I am your partner in ministry to your children, but you are primarily responsible. Your wife will certainly work with you, but you are responsible. Don't shirk that responsibility like, Eli did, instead, be active in the spiritual development of your children like Job was.

Fathers are also responsible for the emotional well being of their children. They are to love them. Like David did. David, was not a perfect father. He certainly made his mistakes, but I am impressed with the love he showed toward Absalom in 2 Samuel 18:5 "And the king charged Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king charged all the commanders concerning Absalom." 

Absalom was in rebellion against King David, and was trying to take over the kingdom. He was an enemy of the throne, yet David loved him.

Children will disappoint their fathers, but that doesn't stop fathers from loving them. Paul wrote, "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4 NASB) There is a line that fathers must be careful not to cross when they are disciplining their children. Fathers should temper their strong arm with a soft heart, lest they dishearten their children and spin them into further rebellion. It is a part of love.

One more thing, to be emotionally whole, your children need your blessing. When Esau heard that Jacob had stolen his birthright and his blessing, he was heartbroken. Listen as I read, Genesis 27:34-40 "When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, 'Bless me, even me also, O my father!' [35] And he said, 'Your brother came deceitfully, and has taken away your blessing.' [36] Then he said, 'Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.' And he said, 'Have you not reserved a blessing for me?' [37] But Isaac answered and said to Esau, 'Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?' [38] And Esau said to his father, 'Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.' So Esau lifted his voice and wept. [39] Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, 'Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. [40] And by your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you shall break his yoke from your neck

Can you hear the anguish is Esau's voice when he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" Esau had waited his whole life for his father's blessing and now, it looked like he wouldn't get it.

What is so important about the blessing? In their book, "The Blessing" Smalley and Trent wrote, "We all have a powerful need to know that someone in this world loves us and accepts us unconditionally. We especially crave our parents' blessing, and without it, we may become angry and driven, or detached and empty. We may also feel this hurtful lack between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, or even with our religious congregation." (Back cover copy)

Have you blessed your children? Do they know by your actions that they are special in your eyes? Have you told them you are proud of them? Do you tell them you love them?

Other people will be their friends, their mentors, their coaches. But no one else will ever be their father. Only you. They need your physical, spiritual and emotional provisions. Put food on the table? Yes. That's your responsibility. Guide your children into spiritual maturity. Yes. That's your responsibility. Provide a framework for emotional health. Yes. That's your responsibility.

But if I know you like I think I do, I know it is also your joy. Happy Father's day. I'm your biggest fan. 

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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