June 19, 2016     Ephesians 521 on     Fathers  


    I am going to speak to the men of the church today and that does not mean that the ladies can tune out because God wants to speak to all of us through his word.  Wouldn’t it be great today if the spirit of God swept through this church and blessed people and healed them and empowered them?   Do you long for the presence and blessings of God?   It is time for the young men to have visions and the old men to dream dreams. Young men do you want to see visions?  I have a great desire to see that happen.  We live in the days when we need a visitation from God.  Ladies do you want God to visit you?   Come Holy Spirit come.  

     I am thankful for the men of this church.  I respect the fathers in this church.  Are they perfect no?  I want to submit a good word on their behalf today.  They work hard and they love their spouse and they love their children and they sacrifice for them.  They are often the unsung heroes and they deserve our respect and our prayers.  It is too easy to look at the negative and not see the positive.   The world is full of critics today.  The Christian has reasons to be positive and to be thankful.  We can be an encourager.  I am going to challenge us today also.   I know many of us have so much on our plate and probably feel like I do not need one thing more on my list.  But some things do not require more time.  There are many things we can change without adding things to our list.  We just change the time we have.  We change our words.  We can change how we say our words.  We can make better use of our time.  We can change our attitudes.    

    Bob Seiple shares in the darkest days of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, God asked Jeremiah to go out and buy a piece of real estate — complete with witnesses, a deed, and money (Jeremiah 32:6 – 15).   This act seemed to make no sense, since Judah was about to be conquered and its people taken into exile.   But in seventy years, as God reminded Jeremiah, the people would be set free and return to the land to rebuild homes and replant vineyards.   Jeremiah’s purchase of land was to provide a beacon of hope during the long years of captivity.

   Bob said my father, at age seventy-five, planted a number of small fruit trees. “What an optimist,” I said to him, somewhat mockingly.   Dad passed away a few years ago.  Now when I return to the old homestead, I have an option.   I can go to the grassy cemetery on top of the hill and brood over his grave, or I can eat the fruit of his trees and reflect on a man who knew a great deal about hope.   — Bob Seiple, “The Gospel Blimp Revisited,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. 27, no. 2 (2006).   Am I a person who reflects hope and as a parent do I reflect hope?  That is certainly something that all of us could work on. 

    In Malachi 2 the Lord is telling his people things that they needed to work on.  This is just before the birth of Jesus and these are some of the last words that God spoke before Jesus came.   You remember that there was about 400 years where God was not speaking through his prophets.   God said another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.   You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.    Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. 

     So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.   “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect, says the Lord Almighty.   So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.  What does it mean to be faithful to your marriage?    What does it mean for the husband and what does it mean for the wife?  What about negative thoughts and anger?  Is there unfaithfulness when 2 people do not pull together?  If a couple is not communicating are they being faithful to each other? 

    In this passage of scripture a positive quality of a good father is that he loves his wife as Christ loved the church.  What are some other qualities of a good father?  I am sure all of us could list several things.  I think a couple of things have already been mentioned in this message.  The father that exhibits hope is a positive father and that is a good role model for the spouse and children.  One of the most important things that a parent can do is to pull together with their spouse.   There needs to be faithfulness in the marriage relationship.  That is a 2 way street. 

    The father is the priest of the home and he is the leader.  The father needs to hear from God and do what God tells him.  The man of God goes first to the Lord before others to seek counsel.  Verse 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.   The husband is the head of his family.  He does not run around and check with his best friend or his parents or his wife or some other person.  He goes to the Lord and listens to the lord.  If the Lord gives him clear direction he follows it.  He can and perhaps should seek advice after that depending on how big the decision is.  He does not first seek his parent’s advice.   He does not first seek his wife’s opinion nor does he seek or consult his buddy’s opinion first.  He goes to the Lord and to the scripture.

    A good father who leads properly is walking with Jesus.   This man is in the bible.   The word of God is in his mind and his heart.   He reads the bible and meditates on the bible.    He hears from the Holy Spirit.   He is spirit filled and spirit lead that is how it works.   I think husbands and wife’s need to pull together and listen to each other and I believe both need to hear from the Lord.  How good are you at listening?   Spouses want to be heard.  Children want to be heard.  What happens if both hear from the Lord but hear opposite things?  Ha.  My leader in the Navigators many years ago told me that 5 guys told him that God gave them direction to marry the same woman.   He said one thing is for sure, they are not all correct. 

     We see in this chapter that the bible tells us  husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.  Scriptures also say that women should love their husbands.  In Titus 2 the older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands and the younger women to love their children.  What does it mean to love someone?  Well we can see with God that love means you give.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.  God gave his highest treasure.  Jesus loves his church and Jesus loved his disciples.  Jesus did not control them.  Jesus led them.  Jesus trained them.   And Jesus died for them.  Jesus laid down his life for them. 

   The bible is plain that husbands are to love their wife and the wife is to love her husband.   That certainly means that there is some giving.   Each one has to give up personal desires and rights.  When you get married you lose your rights.  Love gives freedom.  God loves people and God gives people freedom.  The wife is not supposed to control the husband and the husband is not to control the wife.  God says love one another.  There is serving and submission involved with that.  I believe that is true for the husband and the wife.   That does not mean you control one another.  People love to control and demons love to control.  A person who has a controlling spirit in them has a problem I believe.

    A good father does not micro manage his wife nor his children.  The parents over see their children.   I copied this from someone.   A dad is someone who wants to catch you before you fall but instead picks you up and brushes you off and lets you try again.  A dad is someone who wants to keep you from making mistakes but instead lets you find your own way even though his heart breaks in silence when you get hurt.   A dad is someone who holds you when you cry, scolds you when you break the rules, shines with pride when you succeed and has faith in you even when you fail.  I think in this broken world there is a lot of failure. 

   The good father trains them and yes disciplines them but he does not try to totally control them.    As a child grows parents need to trust them more and more.  As a person grows they should make more and more decisions.  Guidance can be given but sooner or later they need to be on their own.  They will make decisions.   They will leave the house some day and then they will be on their own.   What is one of the greatest gifts a father can leave his children?   What is one of the greatest gifts a mother can leave her children?        At the funeral of Ronald Reagan, his son Michael described the greatest gift a child can receive: I was so proud . . . to be Ronald Reagan’s son. What a great honor.  

   He gave me a lot of gifts as a child — a horse, a car, a lot of things.   But there’s a gift he gave me that I think is wonderful for every father to give every son. . . Last Saturday, . . . when he closed his eyes, that’s when I realized the gift that he gave to me, the gift that he was going to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   He had, back in 1988 on a flight from Washington, D.C., to Point Mugu, told me about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Savior. I didn’t know then what it all meant.   But I certainly, certainly know now.  I can’t think of a better gift for a father to give a son. And I hope to honor my father by giving my son, Cameron, and my daughter, Ashley, that very same gift he gave to me.   I can only promise my father this: “Dad, when I die, I will go to heaven.    And you and I and my sister, Maureen, who went before us, will dance with the heavenly host of angels before the presence of God.   We will do it melanoma- and Alzheimer’s-free.”  — Associated Press, “Reagan’s Children’s Eulogy Remarks,” USA Today (June 12, 2004).

    That is quite a eulogy.  The fathers in this church want their children to know Jesus.  I believe they want to leave a godly heritage to their children.  The parents in this church want their children to know that the parents trust in Jesus.  That life is not easy but they pray and they trust the Lord.  It is ok to let them know you do not have all the answers.  They want their children to know that the bible is important to them.  They want their children to know that church and being around other Christians is important in our life.  Godly parents want to protect their children from the advertising world and protect them from too much TV.    

    Kids are significantly targeted and influenced by advertising. Following are some findings reported in U.S. News & World Report in 2004:  Twenty-six percent of kid’s ages two and under have a TV in their room.  Advertisers spend $15 billion a year telling kids what’s hot.  The average American child sees 40,000 commercials a year.    How many times do they hear the gospel in a year?   How many times are they hearing a bible story in a year?  The article goes on children recognize Lego bricks by eighteen months; by age two, many ask for products by brand name.  American parents do little to correct this trend; rather, they seem to be encouraging it. According to the magazine American kids get an average of 70 new toys a year.    In 1984, children ages four to twelve spent $4.2 billion of their own pocket money. In 2004, they were estimated to spend $35 billion.   2004, children were predicted to influence $670 billion worth of parental purchases, both small (which snacks to buy) and large (which SUV).  — Katy Kelly and Linda Kulman, “Kid Power,” usnews.com (September 13, 2004)

    Fathers needs.   James Dobson 

His eighteen-year-old son committed suicide near the end of the 2005 football season. At the funeral Service, Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, offered a heartbreaking appeal to fathers. “God can provide joy in the midst of a sad occasion,” he said. “The challenge is to find that joy. I urge you not to take your relations for granted. Parents, hug your kids each chance you get. Tell them you love them each chance you get. You don’t know when it’s going to be the last time.”  Tony Dungy last saw his son at Thanksgiving in Indianapolis.   James Dungy was in a rush to get to the airport, and his father did not have a chance to hug him.   Phil Richards, “Colts Convene in Tampa as Dungy Buries Son,”  USA Today (December 27, 2005)